When Barry Rubin took over coaching duties for his son’s soccer team for one game, he introduced a novel idea — play to win. The team hadn’t won all season because the regular coach apparently treats all of his players as if they were equally talented for all purposes. Rubin freed his team from this fiction, and led it to victory.
Oddly, this seemed to make the team members happy. Even the boy who was criticized by his mother for being too happy with the win was still smiling after the chewing out.
Winning seems to have that effect. It should probably be outlawed. Short of that, conspiring to avoid victory and guilt-tripping the victors seem like the best options.
Stiil, I believe that Rubin lives not far from me in the Washington DC area. The adults around here seem to play to win. So why send the signal to their children that there’s something wrong with this general approach?
JOHN adds: This reminds me of the days when my son played T-ball and they didn’t keep score. This seemed silly to me, as it did to the kids, so I would keep track of the score and when a runner crossed the plate, the kids would crowd round and I would surreptitiously tell them the score. I think most people who lead an active life would say that the next best thing to doing your best and winning is doing your best and losing.
PAUL adds: Or, as I used to tell the 11 and 12 year olds I coached in a basketball league, we’re here to have fun and the way to have the most fun is to win.
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