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A recent study by the Rutgers Youth Sports Participation Council examines the importance of winning in youth sports. The study found that the role of winning (and losing) should not be minimized. Some key findings:

  1. Winning builds confidence
  2. Winning gets more important as kids get older
  3. Winning builds team spirit
  4. Winning increases motivation
  5. Winning is about more than winning – The word “winning” can mean more than scoring more runs than the other team. Winning can be defined as achieving, or advancing towards, self-improvement goals.
  6. Winning teaches kids how to win (and lose) with character

These findings may not surprise you but it is important to note that winning and keeping score have been de-emphasized in many areas of youth sports.

If we accept that youth sports are an important part of childhood development, then it should follow that winning should be an important part of that development. After all, isn’t winning the goal of all sports? Shouldn’t we expect youth sports to help kids understand how to win and lose, rather than ignoring the concept altogether?