The opening rounds of our junior sport are almost upon us in the traditional winter codes such as rugby league, rugby union, soccer, netball, hockey and Australian football.
The main objective for young sportspersons must be to have fun in their chosen sport, but there has to be a winning team at the end of the season.
This has created some debate because, when there is a winner, ultimately there has to be a loser.
In this increasingly more politically correct world we now live in - loser has become a harsh word.
I’m sure many would agree that the main objective of an individual or team sport is for the participant/s to strive for victory - so where did it all go wrong?
In many codes, children are given trophies at the end of the season for participating, regardless of whether their team was getting a hiding in every single game.
Is this teaching children the wrong lesson and allowing them to be ill-prepared for the real world?
Everyday life is competitive whether we like it or not.
Does this mentality bode well for children who could become an adult and receive knockback after knockback from university, TAFE or the workplace?
I’m not proposing we drum into children that they must win at all costs - not at all.
Yes, of course children deserve praise for trying their best - win, lose or draw, but to take that extra step and reward a child for taking part - well I’m sitting on the fence with that one.
Maybe I’m a dinosaur reflecting on my childhood sporting memories.
I grew up in a different era and culture to the one we enjoy today but I know when my team lost a game, the effect it had on us was to try harder the next time, to get our hands on that little piece of plastic and wood we called a trophy.
Many of us cherish the memories that trophy gave us as it sits proudly on our display shelves in our home or office.
To be fair, most local sporting bodies do great in balancing the fine line of the need to win and playing in a sportsmanlike manner.
Some have even introduced a mercy rule when the opposition team is turning it on and having a field day.
I’m unsure whether that is a good or a bad thing though.
If my soccer team had been beaten 10-0 I wanted to know so it could spur me on to ensure we reduced the margin of defeat the following week.
But fun is the top priority for youngsters playing sport and we must maintain the fine balance.
Developing skills, co-ordination and teamwork can come later and usually does so naturally.
Every child must have the chance to be a team member regardless of their ability.
The number one reason is that it often allows children to make new friends, teaches them the values of sportsmanship and gives them a morale boost.
The bottom line is that you can only try your best and that’s all you can do, but it won’t be good enough on certain occasions.
If you’ve played fairly and put everything into helping your teammates that’s all you can do and yes, you may have lost the game, but how can anyone have the right to condemn you?
There’s much talk of corruption and cheating scandals casting a cloud over a variety of sports at present, so now is the time for cool heads.
Our coaches, parents and officials, involved in local junior sport, must ensure they are good role models so we have the chance to foster a new generation of sportsmen and women who will draw on positive values from their junior sporting experiences.
And in a future, even more politically correct world that awaits us, maybe the words, ‘‘corruption in sport’’ will be a memory of yesteryear as it is wiped from our vocabulary.
Let me know your views on presenting trophies for just participating, or the more harsher term as we know it - for losing!