Just a few weeks ago, my 12-year-old sister came home after a weekend soccer tournament. She was holding a trophy as she walked in the door.
“Nice! You guys won the tournament?” I asked.
“No,” my sister replied.
“Oh so you guys got second place? That’s still good.”
“We got seventh place,” she said dismally.
“Out of how many?” I asked, as if it mattered in the slightest bit.
At that moment I knew society had officially failed me, as well as the rest of humanity.
When kids begin to receive 7th place trophies, the whole concept of working hard to achieve a goal depreciates like the current U.S. dollar. Being awarded for mediocrity or inadequacy does not discipline a child. Once receiving appraisal, many children do not think there is more to achieve or that further work is to be done.
The “everybody is a winner” philosophy that was adopted by American society years ago is a contagious flu that seems to be caught by the weak and repelled by the strong. It is primarily orchestrated in sports.
These suburban communities that uphold this fallacy are the main culprits. By the time the affected children reach college and beyond, it is too late for them to realize that the handouts they used to receive on a daily basis don’t carry over into real life circumstances.
Some fortunate people, such as myself, grew up in a comforting environment where often times the word “yes” is heard most from parents. I used to get whatever I wanted for “being good”, or for simply doing my job by receiving good grades on my report card; two things I should have been doing without some sort of compensation. Despite being thankful for that treatment, I do not believe this is how a child should be introduced to the world. With that being said, it is perfectly fine for parents to raise their children as they please. However, serious problems arise when society begins to dictate such actions.
Which brings us here.
The “yessing” has leaked into extracurricular and recreational activities inside and outside of school, orchestrated by the administrators, coordinators, coaches, volunteers and teachers. It has spread like wildfire.
“Equal playing time, no strikeouts, everybody’s included,” echoes throughout the school hallways and the community.
Wait, what? I don’t get it. Why is he playing in the game as much as I am? He stinks. Why can’t he strikeout? Those are the rules of the game. Why does everyone have to be included? If you can kick a soccer ball, you shouldn’t make the school soccer team.
Just as one earns grades and accolades in the classroom, one should have to either earn a spot on a sports team or learn the hard way and understand that they may not be fit to participate in such an activity. Taking playing time away from the best players on the recreation baseball team to involve the undesirables doesn’t bolster the team’s chances of succeeding.
Parents typically complain to coaches: “My son wants to pitch! Let him pitch!”
Listen pal, your son’s arm is no better than a piece of al dente linguini. Back in eighth grade my parents didn’t barge into the classroom with a giant foam finger after I received an 18% on my algebra test proclaiming me as the best and demand that I get another try or somehow arbitrarily have my grade raised. If this kind of nonsense spilled over into the classroom our future political system would seem even further mired in disarray and impotency. Why should kids get an equal chance participating in an activity for which they possess inferior skill sets? I didn’t get a retry on my algebra test and nor should I have (due to my lack of mathematical intuition coupled with my poor effort).
If you’re not that good at something you must work harder to get on the level of another who is better than you. So for all you parents yelling from the bleachers, either sit your carcass back in the stands, or play some catch in the backyard with your kid if you want him to pitch so bad. He needs the practice if he wants to play in a crucial game with implications, no matter the age level.
And if you want to propose the “youth sports are all about having fun and getting involved” argument, then I would tell you that watching your athletically inept child give up homerun after homerun isn’t fun for anybody; especially for the kids on the team who are trying to win. Much like it’s not fun for the nerds in math class to deal with the unruly punk student who wants nothing to do with the group project.
Thankfully I was old enough to be done with community and school sports before having to experience this full-fledged invasion of recreational communism. But if we work together, just like we did during the Cold War to prevent the spread of this system, we can be successful and get our children back to remembering how important it is to work hard in order to achieve a goal.
My sister understood the concept when I saw her throw the trophy in the garbage.
“Seventh place wasn’t good enough to earn the trophy?” I asked.
“The only thing we accomplished was not coming in last,” she said.
And that definitely does not deserve an award.