Ottawa Soccer League Makes Pansies of Kids

It’s been a long while since I found a good article to tackle in the classic style of the legendary blog Fire Joe Morgan. Normally, the FJM Style is used on opinion pieces but this news article is just too good to pass up. A CBC investigative report discovered that a recreational soccer league in Ottawa will declare any team that wins by more than five goals a loser.

A team that wins a soccer game by more than five goals will be declared the loser in an Ottawa children’s recreational soccer league.

Because, as the old Vince Lombardi saying goes, if you win, you’re out of the family… No, that’s not how the saying goes…

The new policy of the Gloucester Dragons Recreational Soccer league takes the fun out of the game, complains 17-year-old Kevin Cappon, one of 3,000 players in the league’s 200 teams for children and youth aged five to 18.

I guess winning big against five-year-olds doesn’t get tiresome for a teenager.

Cappon said he found out about the rule from the referee when he scored the last allowable goal for his team during a recent exhibition game, bringing the score to 6-1 early in the second half.

“I couldn’t really believe it, but I wasn’t going to doubt the referee,” he told CBC’s Ottawa Morning Monday.

Wait. So you’ll question every foul, offside and possession call that the ref makes but you won’t question him on a rule that you’ve never heard of before?

His team spent the next 20 minutes just passing the ball and keeping it from their opponents, he recalled.

“I felt like I was mocking them sort of when I really didn’t want to … I didn’t feel good doing it, and I don’t think they felt good receiving it.”

And it’s a good thing that they didn’t give up the ball while passing it around. If the other team was smart, they would have stolen the ball, carried it back and put it into their own net for an own goal. That would have made it a six-goal lead and Kevin’s team would have lost. That is unless they were smart enough to answer with an own goal to reduce the gap back to five. Then hilarity would ensue as each team attempted to defend the opposition net from an onslaught of own goals.

Bruce Cappon, Kevin’s father, has sent emails and left phone messages with the league opposing the new policy.

The elder Cappon was clearly cheering for the Hawks while watching The Mighty Ducks. Like Coach Reilly said “It’s not worth winning if you can’t win big!”

Sean Cale, chair of the league, said what happened in Kevin Cappon’s game wasn’t the league’s intention.

Just like it wasn’t the Croatian Football League’s intention to penalize dead people for diving.

“The point isn’t to punish anybody,” he said. “The point is to try and enforce an existing rule that we have.”

Cale said the rule has been on the books for years to encourage coaches to start thinking about strategies to even out the game when the score reaches a three or four goal spread.

Remember kids, the league doesn’t want you embarrassed by another team. They’d rather have a team go easy on you than a team compete with you so you can learn by watching them and attempting to matching their skills. Think of it like playing FIFA 10 and changing the difficulty from Pro to Rookie or instead of playing the computer, you play against an empty controller.

For example, the league recommends that players on the winning team can:
• Play short-handed.
• Kick with their weaker foot.
• Play positions that they have less experience playing.

Oh, they can make it like Rudy and put the small kid that sucks in at striker. Fucking Notre Dame. I hate them so much. Anyway, I like these ideas. Have one kid on the field and just have him run around with the ball while 11 other kids chase him. Or they could all kid left-footed while passing the ball around to kill the clock. Or the striker could play keeper while his teammates pass the ball around to kill the clock.

As a result, the league hopes it won’t ever have to give a team a loss for winning by more than five goals, he said.

Then why make the rule in the first place? Shouldn’t they have tried a mercy rule instead?

Bruce Cappon thinks a better approach is to balance the teams by moving around stronger and weaker players, since it’s a recreational league. He said that’s the league’s job.

Cale agreed, but said it’s not as easy as it sounds. The league is evaluating a system to help balance the kids on various teams for next year, he said.

How about- Oh, I don’t know- a draft?

“In the meantime, the board of directors felt something had to be done based on feedback that we received from parents.”

He added that last year, scores for some games were 14-0 or 16-0.

Maybe it’s not the league that’s the problem. Maybe it’s the parents that are the cause of all that is wrong with society. They don’t want to teach little Billy and little Suzy the value of hard work, determination, and teamwork. They can’t be bothered to burst their kids bubbles and tell them that life isn’t like a Disney movie and the underdog doesn’t always prevail. They want their kids to live a sheltered life that will leave them maladjusted to being a functional member of society when they grow up. This rule is going to lead to anarchy and the downfall of society.

Since the new policy went into effect, the league has received little feedback about it, Cale said. In any case, he said, the league isn’t going to reverse its decision this early in the season just because one or two parents aren’t happy.

Wait, didn’t Mr. Cale say just a couple of paragraphs ago that the rule was on the books for years but no one knew about it? Well if no one, even the refs, knew that this rule existed, doesn’t he think that he should have very few complaints? Shouldn’t he also think about hiring new refs because they couldn’t be bothered to actually read the rule book? Then again, how many of us would actually believe a ref if he said that he read a rule book?

The author of this post was a former house league baseball umpire. He regularly enforced a mercy rule, time limits, and only bothered to read the part of the rule book that noted if a situation wasn’t specifically cited in the rules, a decision could be made at the umpire’s discretion.

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