Americanly Yours

Promoting Free Markets, Free Trade, and Freedom!

A Goal for Failure – Why Everybody Loses When The Losers Win

June 04, 2010 By: Phred Category: Uncategorized

My friend Ben sent me an article about this story.

The article is about a new rule for an Ottawa youth soccer league which stipulates that if a team leads by five goals, they automatically lose!  The league previously had a “mercy rule” which sought to prevent humiliation by calling the game when a team led by 5 and awarding that team with the victory.  There is at least some sense in this type of rule–there is definitely an argument against making kids feeling bad about themselves by allowing a team to lose by 10, 20, or 30 goals.

When I played baseball, there was a sort of mercy rule: no team could score more than 10 runs in an inning.  But even so, scoring a lot of runs didnt cause a team to lose–it didnt even cause the game to be called (I remember beating the Spartans 28-3).

But, this new rule is just plain wrong.  It uses perverse incentives to send children the wrong message, punishing good teams and rewarding bad teams.

Under this rule, a team that is winning 4-0 is in the lead, but if they score one more goal, they are losers.  But, what about that poor child who excitedly charges down the field and scores the fifth goal for the team.  By doing what he has been taught by his coach, he has just cost his team their victory.  Surely, his friends will give him hell after the game and make him feel bad for scoring.

Even worse: under this rule, a team that was down by 4 goals could easily kick the ball into their OWN goal–AND GIVE THEIR TEAM AN EASY WIN!

This isnt what youth sports are about.  Youth sports are about teaching children to work with others, as a team towards a common goal. What kind of message does it send to children to award the team with the fewest points the victory and turn the team with the most points into losers?

We can compare sports to economics in one important regard.  Wins and losses are little different from profits and losses.  Just as a profit is a signal to a company that it is succeeding and doing things right, a win is a signal to a team that it is succeeding and doing things right.  The opposite is true for losses.  People take actions that tend to offer them the most rewards; a profitable company will repeat the actions that brought it these profits, and similarly, a victorious team will repeat the actions that made it victorious.  I repeat:  What kind of message does it send to children to award the team with the fewest points the victory and turn the team with the most points into losers?

Dubbs Galt commented to me about this issue: “Today, the message from the youth sports egalitarians is that winning and losing is everything – only that any drive for winning should be replaced with a feeling of shame for making someone else lose. These bastardizers of morals want everyone to feel the benefits of an unearned effect while completely dismissing its relationship to any real cause.

As a both a former player and coach of youth baseball, I can promise that a day later kids don’t remember that they lost 11-5. But, the lessons you learn from preparing for competition, laying it on the line during the game, and even the lessons you learn from losing badly…..these lessons last a lifetime.”

This rule sends the wrong message.  It turns losers into winners and makes winners into losers.

Imagine if a similar rule was used in other sports.  A similar rule in baseball might cause a child to get booed by his own teammates after he hit a grand slam (which cost the team the game).  A similar rule in basketball could cause a child who mistakenly stepped behind the 3 point to cost his team the game.  This is insanity.

I am glad to report that the entire world hasnt gone completely stupid, however.  When I spoke with former New Mexico State QB, Carl Scaffidi about this rule, he told me “if I was a coach, I would strive to go 0-20 with 100 goals.”

Americanly Yours,

Phred Barnet

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An Old Piece

December 24, 2008 By: americanlyyours Category: Uncategorized

Here is an excerpt from a piece I wrote back on September 26th, before Congress passed the $700 billion TARP program.  A lot of things have changed since then, but I still think this is a good and relevant piece.  I did not change this from the way that I wrote it back in September, except to correct a spelling mistake in the last paragraph.

We should, however, worry about our economy now.  The national debt is rapidly marching towards ten trillion dollars ($10,000,000,000,000).  Our unfunded liabilities in Social Security and Medicare now total an additional sixty-seven trillion dollars ($67,000,000,000,000).  By 2012 the Medicare fund will be going into a deficit and we will be forced to spend tax dollars to keep up with Medicare payments.  By 2017, the same thing happens with Social Security.  American families now owe over $15 trillion in household debt.  We have nothing left.  We are witnessing the slow, painful fall of the American Empire.  It hurts me to watch because I love this Nation so much.

For years we threw money at problems without ever trying to really solve them (poverty, drugs, education, health care).  Now we have no money and things are getting worse in all of these areas.

Iconic American companies are being swallowed up by foreign firms at an unprecedented rate.  Budweiser is being bought out by a Dutch firm, Miller is now owned by South Africans, and Coors is owned by Canadians.  Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors are now on the brink of extinction and are closing down American plants to move to other nations.

Sovereign wealth funds (companies owned by foreign governments) have been buying up large stakes in American companies—these sovereign wealth funds now own about 10% of Citigroup, 20% of the NASDAQ stock exchange, 9% of UBS, 10% of Morgan Stanley.  They own 7.5% of the Carlyle Group (which owns major defense contractors, telecommunications and technology companies, CSX railroads’’ domestic container lines, and consumer companies like Baskin-Robbins and Dunkin’ Donuts).  China owns 10% of the Blackstone Group (which owns Hilton Hotels, American textbook publisher Houghton-Mifflin, Universal Studios Parks, and is in the process of purchasing a large stake in The Weather Channel).  These wealth funds also own well over 10% of Merril Lynch (RIP), 2% of Barclays (which controls large portions of the stock of many large companies—go here and put in any symbol and you will see that Barclay’s owns a large stake), 7.5% in Diamler, AG, and several hundred million dollars worth of Visa.

The German government owns 35.5% of DHL, 20.3% of Volkswagen, and 32% of T-Mobile.  Through its stake in Renault, the French government owns 6.9% of Nissan.  Any time that you buy a product or a service from one of those companies, you are essentially paying a tax to a foreign government.  For example, if you stay at a Hilton hotel, 10% of the profit made from your visit goes to the Chinese government.  If you buy a new Mercedes, 7.5% of the profits made subsidize the Dubai government.  Do you think that American text books will continue to criticize the policies of Mao, now that China owns 10% of the company that makes our history books?

This is socialism, but at least in traditional socialism, Americans would see some benefit from their dollars going to state-owned enterprises.  In this case however, American dollars are going directly into the hands of foreign governments.  Would foreign nations tolerate the American government coming in and buying up stakes in their countries?  think not.

Do you remember mercantilism from history class?  That is what is happening in this country.  We export food, chemicals, plastic, cigarettes, cotton, and many other raw materials, only to import these goods back into the country later as finished goods: the cotton comes back as clothing, the plastic comes back in the form of goods made in China, and so on.   We produce nothing here.   We consume foreign goods like the world is ending tomorrow.  We now have the import/export profile of a 3rd world nation.

Rome is burning while Congress is playing the fiddle.  Be scared.  You should be.  Your children will know a different America.

Americanly Yours,

Phred Barnet