The cornerstone of the AYSO philosophy – “everyone plays”, “positive coaching”, “good sportsmanship”, “open registration”, “balanced teams” and “player development” are geared toward elevating fun, fair play, ethics, learning, accessibility to all and physical and mental developmnet over winning. Consistent with these principles and goals, AYSO is a coalition member of the Josephson Institute of Ethics, which is committed to supporting the Character Counts program. Each of us separately, and all of us together, can and should play a role in this effort by adhering as individuals to, and encourageing our players to follow, the six pillars of the Character Counts program. The Six Pillars of Character are:
Success in this effort requires the support from and cooperation of all members of the AYSO Team – Coaches, Spectators and Referees.
Giving these principles and objectives our highest priority may, at times, seem at odds with the high emotions felt during games and the fact soccer is itself a competitive game. There is no doubt winning feels better than losing, and winning is probably the central, or only, concern of televised sports. AYSO, however, views healthy sporting competition differently, as a vehicle for achieving the AYSO philosophy and developing good character. Together we must strive to maintain this perspective on winning, or the entire AYSO program suffers.
Negative Competition: A negative competitive environment narrows the range of youth that can benefit from AYSO, and discourages good people from volunteering, particularly as referees and coaches. The earmarks of overly intense negative competition are often apparent:
- Spectators yelling orders and directions to players from the sidelines;
- Coaches going beyond positive coaching to harshly commenting on the play, the players and/or the game;
- Coaches, spectators and players denigrating or complaining about the competitors, on either side of the field;
- Coaches, spectators and players openly grumbling about and disputing calls made or not made by the referee, and directing sexist or racist comments at game officials. Controlled expressions of disappointment are expected, dissent is not.
- Coaches training players to purposefully commit fouls for advantage and deception.
- Players purposefully using unfair, deceptive and sometimes dangerous practices to win, with the tacit and/or outright approval of coaches and/or spectators.
Achieving Total Team Performance: Implementing the AYSO philosophy and the Character Counts program requires that winning be within the confines of healthy competition emphasizing fair play and team spirit. There must be a shared vision and cooperation among and between parents, players, coaches, referees and the myriad of volunteers who make Region 13 work so well. The AYSO Team must work together. We in Region 13 are fortunate to already have many fine volunteers, but we need to recruit more volunteers, and better retain the volunteers we have, by insuring they continue to participate. The best way to achieve both of these objectives is to eliminate all abuse of coaches and referees which results from unhealthy competition on the field and an undue emphasis on winning. Your Board of Directors has concluded the necessary balance of priorities needs to be emphasized and actively supported and enforced in order for Region 13 to continue to prosper.