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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cash for Goals

The following is an exchange between my son's soccer coach and myself. 

Thu, November 17, 2011 3:36:59 PM

So the tournament is Saturday first game at 9:00 AM. I have been told that there is somethng else going on at the church so parking is going to be crazy. Please arrive early.

I really want to win this first game. I don`t want to do something any of you are against so let me know if you have a problem with this but I am going to offer financial incentives to the kids (of course unless you say not to for you child.) The deal is as follows:

$3 per kid for a win
$3 per goal
$2 per assist

Here is why. On Saturday I was at an indoor game for 3rd graders. The coach for the team we were playing was within ear shot of me. Another parent walked up and the coach said "hey nice draw on the first round of the tournament." The guy answered "yeah. St. Roch." I recognized the guy who answered since we just played the team he coaches the week before. We only lost by one and had no subs. But the way he answered was as if we were the most terrible team ever. Well I disagree. I think we have a very solid team as evidenced by our last game. I think with a full roster at every game there are several we would have won. I know it is not feasible for everyone to make every game and I do not expect that. I am merely pointing out that we are better than our record. So I want to win this game badly to put this guy in his place!

If you have a problem with this let me know and I will make sure I shield your kid from my incentives! This only counts for the first game.

I took a moment to respond. I wrote the email that night, but did not decide to send it until the next day.

Fri, November 18, 2011 5:22:45 AM
I am speaking as a parent and as the coach of both the baseball and basketball team, and as such I am concerned by the precedent that this will set. This does not conform to my philosophy of sports.

Financial incentives have no place in youth sports, particularly team sports. I am not just saying this because the salary structure would preclude Evan and any other defensive minded players from being compensated. Our players are motivated because they want to do their best. Your proposal would only encourage players to keep the ball and score goals instead of passing or defending. Furthermore, it will create a rift between the players that have had additional training and those that have not. Our boys are a team and as such support each other in there efforts. There is no need to upset the team chemistry.

The goal of sports is to build better young men that have not only the physical skills that may later result in a compensation, but the social and mental skills to deal with both winning and losing. Introducing an arbitrary reward system will undermine both of these goals. Youth sports are a learning experience and winning is the reward for hard work and team play. Intrinsic motivation is infinitely better than a financial reward.

There are other leagues in which winning is the primary goal, but even in Evan's USA swim team the emphasis is on self-improvement, team work, and dedication. The winning comes as a result of the mastery of these skills and personality traits. We all enjoy winning, but we have to decide if it should be done at all cost especially in the CYC league.

With that said if you want to form a team of parents to totally go and kick this other guy's ass on a soccer field, basketball court, baseball diamond, or Trivial Pursuit board, then I will be there with my game face and a case of beer.

Apparently I wasn't the only one to respond.

Fri, November 18, 2011 8:42:36 AM

I got various feedback on the proposal I laid out. IN a busy moment I may not have thought through it all the way. A great suggestion was to change the amounts to reward an assist higher than the goal. Makes sense since passing is the key to the game. Another was to reward goals as a pot to split for the team. Another was to remove it all together.

So here is what I suggest. I certainly do not think this is the most appropriate thing for this age, I just want to beat this team.  So rather then compromise the spirit of what we are doing here I will tell the boys that if they win I will have a pizza party for them to which I will most definitely pay for it myself as the victory will be worth it for me. I certainly want them to play the way they have been since the teamwork has come a long way this year and I do not want to disrupt that as it could actually backfire.

Remember, be there early since parking is going to be an issue. Remember, if we cannot field a team we get fined $100. Have a great breakfast and come ready to play soccer!

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