Kids and parents alike are outraged after a junior footy league decided to shield junior players from huge score blowouts by scrapping scorelines and introducing a “mercy rule” for junior teams being flogged by huge margins.

Studio 10 discussed this topic this morning saying, “Parents are outraged after a junior Aussie Rules league decided to shield players from blowout defeats by introducing a “mercy rule” which prevents teams from losing by huge margins. The idea behind it is to stop kids from under 12s to under 16s losing heart and giving up the game”

Riddell District Football League is the latest to introduce a “mercy rule’’.

Riddell District Football League scoreboards in under-12, under-14 and under-16 competitions will simply be frozen once the margin reaches the maximum amount for the age group.

The scoreboard will only be updated at the end of a quarter if the margin has been reduced.

“Whilst there will be detractors, the fundamental design of this is to improve overall enjoyment from all participants, and to encourage coaches of stronger teams to rotate players to all parts of the ground so that everyone has an opportunity to be involved in the play,” the letter read.

“This will no doubt take a few weeks, but it is hardly a life or death situation so don’t worry if you are the poor family rostered on over the next couple of weeks as scorers.

“If it gets mucked up along the way, so what.”

RDFL operations manager Steve Williams said the margin was capped at 80 points for under-16s, 60 points in under-14s and 48 points in under-12s.

Other junior leagues have adopted mercy rules in the past in various forms, including swapping players.

Herald Sun’s Rita Panahi told Sunrise while the score capping was a “well-intentioned” rule; it was “foolish and counter-productive.”

Parents are arguing that it is just further adding to the cotton wool generation.

Kids need to learn how to lose. Stop the ribbons for just participating and teach them the real setbacks of life.

Psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg says the psychological impact of wrapping kids in cotton wool is creating major issues.

While this ruling is well worth putting in place for the younger/junior players, the older youth/teens should be entitled to play the game properly and learn about the emotions of winning and losing.

My son is playing under 13s this year and they are all so competitive and serious about their football in this age group.

Many of them are striving to get into development squads to improve on their skills and battle their way to be AFL ready. How can they do that if they don’t keep scores, or get rewarded with best players etc

I am all for this ruling in the 12 and under junior sides. But seriously for the youth teams (13+) just leave them be.

What do you think of this rule?

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  • yeah but what does this teach the winning team that do try very hard? their efforts are being diminished in a sense too


  • The world has gone mad. Kids need to learn that in life there are winners and losers. What about when they go for a job and get rejected? Our kids need to be more resilient and we need to start saying no and not always trying to appease them.
    Ok so if they lose by a massive margin? So what as long as they are trying their best. Next week they’ll try that little bit harder and hopefully improve!


  • I doubt this would help anyway, I bet parents would still be keeping a tally on the sidelines.


  • It’s not only football matches that this is happening at. My son was playing indoor roller hockey and if a team was ahead by too big of a margin (I mean a couple of goals) then they couldn’t score again until the other team had gotten a goal.


  • everyone needs to learn to lose and win in some ways. Why bring this up now when back then it wasn’t a problem. cotton wool kids are creating big problems. we need to grow some balls.


  • wow they need to learn how to loose and to loose with dignity and grace and composure and to hold their heads up high in defeat – life will throw many things at them when they are grown up and if they can’t deal with it because they haven’t experienced loosing a footy match then I think their perspectives will be askew!

    I think it is healthy for kids to loose, it builds determination and perseverance and tenacity to keep going and striving to do better – a key attribute to have as a growing person


  • A mercy rule in sport seems like such a silly idea as it will not be there when children grow and surely this creates confusion. Consistency is the key with children. Teaching resilience is the key and how to win and how to lose. A game of sport does not define a child.


  • I would think it would make more sense to insist on rotating players etc.


  • My kids know their score even when I lose count so a bit silly trying to bubble wrap it. We are not allowed to score in junior soccer here at all but we do and the end of season game we just match the teams for the best game. Every kid gets a participation medal and they forget the season till next year just like when I was young.


  • Its still a fairly big margin. Fair call to cap it for younger kids. They will probably know the score either way though.


  • It is more important to stop heavy tackling in children under 6 y.o. because their bones are still fairly fragile. There has been an increase in children being seen in hospital emergency depts. in children under 6 with damaged bones.


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