This may be true, but the rule will simply create a raft of new problems, and more particularly, exacerbate glaring issues that are quickly characterising younger generations.
From my experience as an educator of young adults in their late teens and early 20s, too many lack resilience. They’re more fragile than ever. Failing is too often treated as a reason to give up rather than just a bump in the road.
The problem, or course, is that they view failure, or even something like a 15-goal flogging, without perspective. For them it’s a disaster, an embarrassment, an unmitigated calamity. As such, organisations such as AFL Queensland are proposing rules to ensure it doesn’t happen. But this is not the answer, because in reality, losing is a part of life. The bigger embarrassment would be to not participate or try.
But perhaps more problematic is that valuable life lessons that can really only be learnt from failure are being overlooked or dismissed. From losing comes reflection and problem solving. What went wrong? How can we be better? How can we improve? How can we do things differently, or better? Problem solving requires participants to think and act. And to improve, the team will have to take risks, knowing that not all risks pay off, but to not try would be to never know, right?
But developing resilience, problem solving skills and the willingness to take a calculated risk or two sometimes requires failure. If you take this away from kids growing up in the real world, my bet is they’ll never fully reach their potential because they’ll be too scared to try – or more to the point, they won’t have the courage to go for it.
But the flip side is equally important. The winning side should not be encouraged to do anything more or less than to do their best from start to finish. It’s important that young people strive to reach their potential, be it on the footy field, at school or university or in any other pursuit of life. Advocating for mediocrity goes against the grain of the human spirit, which is to simply do the best you can.
It is true that losing can be demoralising and I can tell you that in my unremarkable football career I was on the receiving end of far more 15-goal floggings than wins, but each Tuesday night brought with it the opportunity to train, to practice, to try new game plans and to solve problems.
But more than that, it was only game. We wanted to win, but it wasn’t the end of the world if we didn’t. Likewise, failing an essay or exam, or even an entire subject of a degree is not the end of the world. It’s certainly no reason to quit. And, if you lost or failed because you didn’t try your best, well the solution is clear.
So, AFL Queensland should scrap the proposed rule. Let kids win and lose without interfering in the eventual margin. Let them succeed and fail. Let them make mistakes, for only then will they learn the lessons they need to be truly great. After all, the person who’s never made a mistake in life has, in fact, never made anything at all.