Things Aren’t Always What They Appear

News is anything that makes a reader say, `Gee Whiz’! “
– Arthur MacEwen, American editor

You may have heard or read about the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) news story on the youth soccer league in Midlake, Ontario, Canada which has decided that they want to improve the experience of the children playing on its teams.  In order to achieve this goal, the league’s administrators have decided to eliminate what they consider to be one of the more damaging aspects of sports; that being competition.
Helen Dabney-Coyle of Midlake’s Soccer Association explained the objective this way, “This year to address some of the negative effects of competition, we’ve actually removed the ball.  And the kids are loving it.
(I added the emphasis)

According to the story, Helen went on to say, “By removing the ball, it’s absolutely impossible to say ‘this team won’ and ‘this team lost’ or ‘this child is better at soccer than that child.  We want our children to grow up learning that sport is not about competition, rather it’s about using your imagination.  If you imagine you’re good at soccer, then, you are.

Here in the U.S., several major media outlets including The Washington Times and USA Today picked up the ball-less soccer story, running it in their print and on-line editions.

There’s only one small fly in this particular ointment.  Nothing about the story is true.  It was originally broadcast on the CBC’s “This Is That ” program which, by the way, happens to be entirely satirical in nature.

Sadly, I don’t find it surprising that so many people were hoodwinked into believing that this story was true.  After all we do live in a culture which, far too often, is guided by ill-advised, but politically correct philosophies.

As an example, some school systems have eliminated the use of the letter grade “F” because it might serve to label particular students as not performing up to minimal standards.  No matter that those students are in fact not performing up to minimal standards!   We just wouldn’t want their egos damaged by their having to face the truth regarding their own lack of effort nor to hold them responsible for making an attempt to improve their study habits.

In the world of youth sports, political correctness is responsible for the now common-place practice of awarding every child on every team a trophy at the end of each season regardless of how they or their team performed.  Apparently, it’s now considered bad form to only recognize the hard work and achievement of those teams and individuals who actually put in the effort to excel.

From my perspective, those individuals who are wearing their rose-colored, politically correct glasses fail to understand the simple and age old truth that when events are structured so that everyone wins, in actual fact, everyone ends up losing.

The winners soon learn that their extra effort gained them nothing at all.  While the losers learn that little or no effort is required to achieve the same level of reward and recognition as those who did put in the extra effort required to achieve.

Hear that loud slamming sound?  That’s everyone being forced to the lowest common denominator at exactly the same time.

But enough about programming subsequent generations into being under achievers who expect to be rewarded for their (lack of) effort.

The really sad thing about this story is that main stream media in the U.S. picked it up and reported it as being factual and newsworthy.
There was a time when news stories weren’t published unless the facts contained within them could be thoroughly substantiated by at least two reliable and independent sources.  In those days, journalists actually worked very hard to vet, or to confirm, the truth of their stories before they were reported as being factual.  Apparently those heady days of journalistic accuracy and excellence are going, if they are not already gone, the same way as the “F” letter grade and the awarding of trophies only to actual winners.

Even if The Washington Times and USA Today had just taken the time to have an intern Google “Midlake, Ontario“, they would have learned that the place simply doesn’t exist.  Good job Main Stream Media.  I’d give you an “F” on this one if that grade still existed.

Edward R. Murrow most certainly is turning somersaults in his grave.


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65 thoughts on “Things Aren’t Always What They Appear

  1. I think it’s healthy for kids to have some competition and learn how to become a good loser instead of a sore one. Also, to learn that while you can’t always win, trying your best is always worth the effort. It’s unfortunate that many want to shield (or “baby”) their kids so much that it’s actually hurting them, not helping them. Having everyone turn out a winner is not the answer. Like you stated, where is the motivation in that?


  2. Jon Stewart addressed the non-fact-centered mainstream media in his Tuesday 17, 2013, show with hysterical accuracy. [ ]Frankly, I haven’t watched, listened to, or read ANY “news” other than Jon and the local weather for almost a decade now. People say I’m looking younger. It’s the happiness.

  3. I’m not surprised that people thought the ball-less soccer story was real. Several people, including US politicians of every level of government, believe stories from the satirical newspaper the Onion, so what does that say?

  4. In regards to the news media, this is a prime example of journalistic laziness that so populates mainstream media. Secondly, I would take your viewpoint one step further to say: let’s stop giving awards to people for playing games. Isn’t the game itself rewarding enough? Stop giving awards for things that are unto themselves beneficial. Exercise, team collaboration, practice, friends – all worthy awards unto themselves.

    • Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I believe that the quality of reporting by Mainstream Media began its decline with the advent of CNN and all the other 24/7 news channels. Filling 24 hours with content 7 days per week forced journalist into the role of creating news, rather than simply reporting it. The decline continues.

  5. We didn’t actually get soccer without a ball. We laugh, more than a little nervous. We know, deep down, that we could have. And, maybe, we will. Only, it won’t be called soccer, it will be something else, without a score, with no winners or losers, only participants. The very young participants, who are just as happy to run around as not, won’t care. The protective parents will congratulate each other, all the while trying to ignore those nagging feelings of something terribly wrong.

    Competition. That word evokes countless images. The gasping runner, the compassionate coach with words of encouragement, rabid parents with torrents of vitriol. Does competition prepare us for life? Is it part of life? Does it really matter?

    When my generation rebelled against their parents (the ones who really did save the world from Hitler), and remade our country, we invoked the law of unintended consequences. Not only did we try so very hard to make equality of opportunity work, we went one step further. We tried to ensure equality of outcome. And we wanted the path to that outcome to be painless and strife-free. And, we did it with the best of intentions.

    Now, our country is fractured by a great generational divide. But, that happens about once a generation anyway. The newest entitled generation comes of age. Nurtured on equality of outcome, they march forward. Sometimes, it seems like they run stop lights, drive solo in the HOV lane, and text, sometimes all at the same time.

    The world my generation saw was an open system, endlessly expanding, with more opportunities than there were people. Society was fluid, with participants free to rise, fall, or stay where they were. With so many opportunities, it really didn’t matter. The status quo was comfortable, and meaningful. The risers didn’t really worry about glass ceilings because, while they did exist, they were at such a high level, they didn’t matter. And, for those who fell, they were free to move on and try something else.

    The next generation sees a very different world. But the new generation always sees a different world. Is it a closed system? Is it true that, for every riser, there must be a faller? Can it be that it is more safe to not rock the boat, to be one with themselves, to find solace in a virtual world, rather than the real one?

    The old Chinese curse, may you live in interesting and exciting times, is well upon us. Will we turn back to the old ways? Nope. Will we throw all of the old ways out? We might. Will someone, tougher, smarter, and harder working come along and upset everything again? Of course – their children.

    Sorry for being so long winded.


    • Thank you for your thoughts. I’m not sure you said anything I would disagree with based on my own experiences and speaking as one raised in the 50’s and 60’s. I find it discouraging that so many of the core values which made this country excel are now disdained. But I remain hopeful for the future.

  6. To gain a needed respect for competition it must be understood that the ability to compete goes hand in hand with your willpower to survive . The environment of America is changing and the true competitor will keep a firm grip on those core values.

    • I believe that your assessment of the character of a winner is spot on. I just hope the social environment that is being constructed by those who would disagree does not become totally toxic to those values. Thanks for your thoughts.

    • When I first came across this story, I was struck by the statement that sports was not about competition, but rather imagination. Thankfully, I was able to pick myself up off of the floor after reading that and eventually discovered that the article was a satire, pure fiction. But as we know, the closer to the truth, the better the satire. Thanks for commenting.

  7. Most of the news is made up. It is exaggerated. Look at any newspaper. Was fifteen people killed in that explosion at a mosque in Iraq, yesterday? Was it twelve instead, was it at the mosque, why lie or why not? In Vietnam a lot of patrols came back and made stuff up. Yes, you were suppose to go in the jungle, march up to the enemy and engage, after the firefight you counted how many you killed. Do you really believe we did that? Believe in the invisible ball that struck the invisible stealth jet which droned over the enemy and destroyed the secret base. Question everything and everyone and believe no one, including me.

  8. A really great post! Honestly, taking away competition and low grades is giving children the wring idea of the real world. If we continue “babying,” future generations, then we just might as well prepare for our future society to be doomed.

    • Thanks for taking time to read my blog and to comment. The ball-less soccer story started as a piece of satire, which too easily duped the Mainstream Media. I was trying to highlight two concerns: 1) the manner in which political correctness is eroding common sense and the core values which made this nation great, and 2) the decline of objective, fact based journalism. Both are equally troubling to me.

      • I agree most whole heartedly. The consequences of postmodernist dominated journalism combined with this social dogma of Political Correctness are eating away at us. We have to start making something new. Of course, a lot of us already are.

  9. Hey, I really liked your post! I’m new to blogging and I just set up one called and I don’t know if it is good or not. It’s directed towards people who want to know about politics but can’t understand what the news is trying to say. I tried to simplify some of the issues so that people can start to understand what is going on! I only have like two posts though and if you want to read them and give me some feedback with a comment, that would be really cool! It’s if anyone is interested. Again, really great post and I really like your writing!

  10. I’m a teacher and I’m so very ecstatic to find that someone feels the way I do. Children should realize that hard work is necessary to succeed, and as a team yes you may lose but if you gave it EVERYTHING you have then in your heart you’re a winner. Just last Saturday morning I went to watch some of my students play in a soccer game. One of them said “I won’t play, they’re too good.” There were only supposed to be 4 year olds on the teams and the opposing team DID look like they had 5’s and 6’s.. However on the other hand a different child, although you could tell he was tired, frustrated, and annoyed because they were losing, persevered. He ran every play as if it were the first one. He cried his eyes out when it was all over BUT what he didn’t realize was that HE won, and the one that rode the bench LOST.

  11. Pingback: Freshly Riffed 49: Welcome To Hell, Enjoy The Buffet | A VERY STRANGE PLACE

  12. I’m so tired of political correctness…or is it incorrect to be so uncaring? Either way…I say let’s just get on with things and stop worrying so much about what others think. Live and let live.

  13. I actually like the idea of ball-less soccer because I always end up tripping up over it and it never goes where I’m aiming for! That being said, maybe if I had played more as a child, I would be better today. Not everyone can be winners, true, But losing doesn’t make you a loser. I think as a culture we have to see ‘failures’ as results to propel us forward in a more constructive manner having learned from the fail. Instead, we are growing generations who don’t want to try because they don’t want to fail and that’s the worst failure of all.

  14. The stock in trade of “This is That” is edge of plausibility things like the story mentioned here; it very infrequently rises to something near the effect of Swift’s “Modest Proposal” but more usually ends up as something tedious that upsets a few people who don’t realize that the straight-faced explication is actually comedy. It one of the few things on CBC I’ve a policy against listening to.

    This article, on the other hand, I’ve quite enjoyed, despite the suggestion of a slow crumbling of the foundations of society which it suggests.

    • Thanks for taking the time to read my blog post and for commenting. I wish I could agree with your assessment on the state of our social structure. Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed too much erosion of what used to be core values in my 6+ decades not to be concerned. That said, I remain optimistic regarding the future. Thanks again.

  15. Ha! Funny! The thought that playing soccer w/o a ball was true. It doesn’t surprise me at all what peeps believe. Also, ‘politically correct’ is not correct anymore (Gesh, was it EVER?!?) anyway, the new term is “all-inclusive language”. =-)

    Congrats on getting pressed!!

  16. My mom would always want everyone to win so she would enforce things like 4th strike, or a cap on scoring points in games so’s not to make the other side feel bad. It was the WORST. Now I think I make up for it too much. I’m so competitive I don’t even like other people walking faster than me on the sidewalk. I blame the Monopoly bank bail-out advocate, my mother.

  17. Considering the number of people I see on facebook who fall for stories from The Onion (the USA’s satirical newspaper), it does not surprise me in the least that this caused people to think it was true.

  18. Thanks for this article and your observations. I’m reminded of Robert Frost’s (cranky) words about ‘free verse’ poetry: ‘It’s like playing tennis without a net.’ —–Which may or may not be true, I just like how he phrased it.

  19. Bravo!!! Very well written. Well thought out and said. We see so many examples of media gone awry these days that it is hard to believe anything you read. I also have a problem with the teachings in the school system and the fact that the kids these days don’t even have to know basic math before they can graduate. The political correctness of a hand full has spread into what is now a national dilemma..

    • Thank you very much for your comments. Being incredibly short-sighted appears to me to be a prerequisite for one to be willing to accept its admonitions as viable. Hopefully, our society will awaken to this reality sooner than later.

    • To be sure, the PC Police are ever vigilant in their quest to ensure that no one’s feelings are ever impinged upon. They feel that it is their special mission to protect all from the sting of an insult, however slight.

      Thanks for stopping by and for your comment.

  20. This is unbelievable! Kids should get to play regular soccer with a ball….I’m pretty sure kids hate it…kids WANT to win,lose be called great! Be called not so great that’s what helps them grow!

    • I my lifetime, I’ve unfortunately witnessed our nation lose its moral compass and the value system that made it great; to be replaced with pop “feel good” philosophies and political correctness. The downward spiral continues, but I hope we will wake up before hitting rock bottom.

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