The ‘mercy rule’

There are moves afoot to try and introduce a maximum score, or ‘mercy rule’, into youth soccer in the UK. Some areas do already apply such a system, but some officials believe the system should be introduced at a national level by the Football Association.

It would mean that if the gap between the scores of two teams reached nine, the game would be declared over.

Those in favour of the scheme believe that good old fashioned ‘thrashings’ are not ‘character building’, as is often cited, but are demoralising to youngsters and could lead to them being prematurely disillusioned with the game. They say that children these days are more vulnerable.

Are children more vulnerable these days, or are they just being nannied to death and pampered in extremis, people pandering to their every whim in a vain effort to protect them from anything even mildly unpleasant? And what will happen to these over-protected youngsters when they grow up and have to live in the real world?

No-one can win all the time, and occasionally defeats can be heavy, at any level of any sport. It may not be pleasant, but it is a fact of life. Unless, of course, you just get rid of the concept of winning all together.

If this continues, where will it all end? Imagine a Wimbledon final, each player with a counsellor instead of a trainer in case they lose 6-0, 6-0,6-0.

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