Little Leagues should keep score

By: Mark Van Paasschen
By: Mark Van Paasschen

I love this time of year in the sports calendar.  Of all the major sports, I truly am a fan of what's been refered to as, "The Great Game."  That of course would be baseball.  I love going to Rangers and Rough Riders games on my days off.  To me, there's nothing better than spending a few hours at the ballpark to take in a baseball game.

I think back to the days of my youth, and my own experiences playing baseball.  I grew up in Houston and played baseball in the local church league.  My family didn't actually attend that particular church, but most of my neighborhood friends did, so it just made sense for me to join that team.  I had a tremenduous time playing those games growing up in the late 80s.  And eventhough that really wasn't a long time ago, I am bothered by a current trend popping up here in Texoma and around the country involving youth sports.

I'm talking about the fact that there are some leagues out there, both here in our area, and elsewhere, that don't keep score of the games.  I think this is utterly ridiculous and absurd.

During the fall I have noticed this was the case for some soccer leagues, then I saw it popping up in basketball leagues, and then baseball leagues as well.  I think we are doing a true disservice to today's youth if we think we are protecting them from something, by not keeping score of these games.

Life is full of wins and losses, and I don't mean on the athletic field.  If someone earns a promotion at work, that's a win.  If a promotion goes to someone else, that's a loss.  If someone falls in love and stays married for the rest of their life, that's a win.  If someone gets married and then has to get divorced, that's a loss.  My point is that I learned how to appropriately deal with a win that I earned, or a loss that I suffered becuase of my youth sports experience.

I learned that as a person you are more respected when you win if you do it with class and a quiet humbleness.  Conversely, I learned that you are more respected as a person when you lose if you can sincerely congratulate the winner without feeling an ounce of envy, but still have a buring desire to win at the next encounter.

I assume that the logic behind not keeping score in youth sports is so that our kids don't feel sad when they lose.  Or maybe it's so they don't feel bad if they get blown out by their opponent.  If that's truly the reason, again, I whole-heartedly disagree.  So much character can be built (even at a young age) by dealing with a win or a loss.  Maybe it's that we're trying to teach our kids that "it's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game."  While I do believe that is true, I don't believe it's a viable reason not to keep score.  Again, that's not how life works.  Life is full of wins and losses, and people are measured by how they handle themselves in both scenarios.  Nobody advances themselves by, or gets rewarded for, simply playing.  It takes a win or a loss to move someone forward, and if we're teaching our kids otherwise, we're cheating them out of valuable life lessons.

While I cherish the triumphs that I had growing up, I believe to the bottom of my soul that the losses I experienced, the lopsided losses that I experienced, even the losing seasons I experienced playing youth sports did more toward building my character than I'll ever really know.  And I can't begin to imagine the person I'd be today if we would have never kept score.

Mark Van Paasschen

KXII Sports

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