By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Nov 27, 2012 at 3:02 PM Photography:

As a general rule television doesn't do much for the mind, but occasionally channel surfing can offer something that stimulates thought.

A few days ago on one of the outdoor channels there was a debate about whether kids who were learning to "fish competitively" should actually keep score by counting the number of fish they caught.

What that brought to mind was the debate about whether kids should keep score in sports.

It's a question most every parent has to struggle with at some point in his or her child-rearing and it's a question without an easy answer.

There used to be no doubt about it. You played games as a kid and you kept score. Every time you stepped on home plate, it was one more run. Every basket you made counted for two points. Every time you hit the golf ball it was a stroke. No questions asked.

But then times and philosophies changed.

Suddenly it seemed like adults thought sports for kids were great but they wanted to make sure it didn't damage the self-esteem of their children. And they wanted to make sure that every kid – including their own – got an equal chance to play the game.

The way to do that, people figured, was to not bother with keeping score. Let the kids run around and have fun and kick the ball or trip over it. Just as long as nobody felt bad when the game was over.

Oh, there was always a parent standing on the sideline shouting encouragement or instructions to his or her child. But the other parents looked at the shouter with contempt and pity.

When the game is over we all go get a pizza.

The other side of this coin, of course, is that children must learn that there are winners and losers in life, just as in a game. The argument is that by not keeping score you are creating a sense of equality that will soon be dispelled when the kids get older and they play on a winning or a losing team.

There is also the argument that life is not fair and there are winners and losers in life and kids better get used to it.

I think there is something missing in the debate over keeping score or not.

There are two things that are important in kids' sports. First, I think they should have fun. If there is pressure to win, or winning is the goal, some kids won't play and those who do will feel pressure to score goals or get points. Winning becomes the most important thing for these kids.

The second thing is that by keeping score you may not allow for the development of the kind of skills that will make a kid better athlete when they get older.

Use soccer as an example. When winning is the object, kids may well not learn how to pass or spread the field. The biggest and most athletic kid will dominate the game and the rest of the players will stand around watching.

Let these kids learn to play the game the right way without the intrusive element of scoring and I think everybody will be happy.

Except that out-of-control parent shouting on the sideline.

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.