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Why a No-Cut Policy for Middle School Teams Is a Good Idea

Memo to Principal from Concerned Parent

The following is the text of a memorandum I wrote to the principal at the middle school my sons attended. As a result of the memo, a committee formed that summer to explore a no-cut policy. As a result, the girls' and boys' soccer teams that fall did not cut any players. [Once I was no longer a middle school parent, however, the school, unfortunately, returned to cutting!].


Middle School Principal


Concerned Parents


Cut/No Cut Policy

We applaud your efforts to study the "Cut/ No Cut" policy at the Middle School.

We have observed first-hand what cutting can do to a child's self-esteem and the positive impact a no cut policy can have. This past fall we were directors of a new soccer club in town. The club was started in order to provide an opportunity for fifty boys, ages 9 to 14, who were cut from the existing travel soccer club, to continue playing travel soccer. When we announced in the newspaper that we were forming a new club with a no-cut policy we received close to 150 phone calls from supportive parents who did not agree with the No-Name Soccer Club's policy of cutting children and felt that it was harming ALL the towns' children for only a "select" handful to be allowed to play travel soccer.

Based on our experiences, we offer the following observations:

  • When a preadolescent or adolescent is cut, she questions her self-worth; cutting thus damages a child's self-esteem. When a child is cut, he feels the pain and embarrassment of being rejected and not included in an activity in which he wanted to participate; as a result, he may never try out for a team again, forever being left out of the loop.

  • The pain and humiliation from being cut may even be worse for a child who is cut after "surviving" the cut the season before; such children will have a difficult time understanding why they were good enough to play on the team one year and not the next.

  • Children develop at different rates; some who are cut at age 13 or 14 because they were not fast or strong enough may turn out to be the fastest and strongest at age 16 or 17. We have all heard the story of how Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Cutting kids from sports teams is like cutting a bud off a tree just because it hasn't bloomed as early as the rest (hence the phrase "late bloomer").

  • Children who are among the few "chosen" to play on a middle school team will naturally feel they are superior to those that are not selected. Such feelings tend to lead to disharmony, cliques, and to reinforcing the "jock culture," not the feeling of community, full inclusion and cooperative learning that the middle school works so hard to promote. As you know, it is important for kids during the middle school years to know that they belong; that they fit in. Cutting tells them they don't fit in, that they don't belong. This is the wrong message to send.