Ali's Adventures

November 17, 2011

Doesn’t need to be national news

Filed under: Kids — by Alison @ 2:51 pm

It seems that people no longer respect the chain of command when dealing with an issue. Take the recent banning of hard balls by a school in Toronto. The note went home to parents on Monday and by Wednesday it’s national news. Now, I don’t want to discuss the merits of the ban because I don’t know enough about the school yard, what injuries happened, or if the younger kids felt threatened by the balls. I want to talk about the reaction. As a parent of an elementary school child, if I had received this note home my response would have been to call the school and talk to the principal. Perhaps a parent-council meeting could have been convened to discuss the issue and come up with a solution. This is a school specific issue, where the principal and staff were responding to an issue in their area of expertise. The ball ban doesn’t impinge on anyone’s rights, there’s no discrimination or illegal activities, so it should have been handled internally and not become national news. Just because we are connected so easily with social media, doesn’t mean we need to be. Instead of this being an issue about safety on a specific school yard, it becomes a larger “let the kids play” debate that probably wasn’t what the principal had in mind.

This seems to happen all the time, small decisions that result from a specific incident are turned into huge speaking points by those who aren’t fully versed in the specifics of the original issue. I saw it last summer with the recreational soccer league I coached in. The recreational league has players from 5 to 17. At the younger age groups, there is no score kept. At the older age groups, the scores determine standings for the playoffs at the end of the recreational season. The league was concerned that some teams had been running up the scores in previous seasons. The teams are created by location, so you tend to play with a lot of the same players year after year. This created some strong teams. As an interim measure before moving to a system of assessing and ranking players, as other recreational leagues do to create balanced teams, the league decided to address the score imbalance by imposing a penalty. If a team was ahead by more than 5 goals at the end of the game, they would be assessed a loss. It seemed like a good solution. There was now no benefit to running up the score.

But then the media got a hold of it. A parent complained to the newspaper. Then the national media took up the story, eventually it was featured on an international parenting website. The parent in question felt the new rule was impacting the game, and not preparing children for the real world by fostering a non-competitive environment. Imagine the disgrace of this within a recreational sport. My favourite part is when the parent involves communism: Kevin’s father, Bruce Cappon, called the rule ludicrous. “I couldn’t find anywhere in the world, even in a communist country, where that rule is enforced,” he said. (1)

Nowhere does Bruce mention if he spoke with the coach, or the age group director or the league director about the rule. Maybe if he’d followed the chain of command, he would have realized the point of the rule. Or if he was so concerned that his son wasn’t in the right competitive environment, perhaps he could have moved out of the recreational league and into the competitive league?

So school principals and soccer leagues make the rules as you see fit, to make sure that the kids you’re entrusted with are safe and having positive experiences. Don’t worry that it’ll become the next hot button topic for people to lament on the decline of childhood.


1. Terrine, F. (2010, June 1). Win a soccer game by more than five points and you lose, Ottawa league says. The National Post. Retrieved November 17, 2011 from


  1. What!?! Become informed about an issue before spewing your opinions publicly?!? What a novel idea 😉

    This is a fantastic post

    Comment by Sara — November 17, 2011 @ 5:39 pm |Reply

  2. This is a well-thought out piece and I agree with your perspective even though I don’t agree with what the school did. I’m writing a blog post with a little devil’s advocacy in it, though. I think there is another way to look at what happened, because it didn’t have to go this way for the school. It really didn’t.

    Comment by Karen — November 20, 2011 @ 2:54 pm |Reply

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