I grew up in a family with three other siblings. To say the least we were competitive – both academically and athletically. I was in the National Honor Society, Math League, and took honors classes. In my senior year of high school I actually took the most difficult load I could take while most took the easiest load they could. In college I made the President’s List almost every semester (which for those of you who don’t know is more prestigious than the Dean’s List at most schools). Athletically I played soccer, baseball, track, wrestling, cross country, and football. My siblings were better athletes than me as they were all on all-star teams but I probably bested them academically.
My point in all this was there was recognition in my family that there were winners and losers. If you slacked off, your sibling would take the spotlight. If you worked hard then you would be recognized. If you failed academically (which at my house was getting a “C” on a report card) then you would get in trouble (grounding, loss of privileges, etc.) or maybe just Mom telling you that your siblings wouldn’t take care of you when you were off failing at life. However, today through our super sensitive, offend-nobody attitudes we are scared to offend anyone.
Specifically speaking, nobody can be a loser in life – academically or athletically. I have heard all sorts of stories about people being moved onto the next grade with sub-par performance. So gone is the threat of you being “left behind” or your siblings being in the same grade as you. At my school we didn’t have summer school to allow you to “make up” your work so you could stay with your graduating class. Todayit sounds like some students rely on summer school – and even with this crazy opportunity they still almost fail. Then there are test scores which routinely get diluted and diminished. We have Common Core on the horizon which touts that it will “help standardize schools across the nation” but “won’t lower standards for anyone.” Which if you have any logic left in you should strike some bells – we can’t standardize the school without bringing the over performing schools down to the underperforming level. It doesn’t stop there though – you also can’t be a loser in sports these days either.
When I played sports, even in T-ball and the first-year soccer, you were most definitely a winner or a loser. We kept score. The winner got to get snacks. The winner for the season got a trophy. After 3 outs, you switched sides. If you threw a tantrum the umpire would remove you from the field. If you sucked then you went home empty handed. I actually remember being an umpire for coach-pitch baseball (6-7yrs) and calling someone out after throwing a bat. While the parents were unhappy that I became forceful, they respected my rules.
Last week my son got signed up for T-ball/coach-pitch baseball. I had heard these above rumors but I honestly couldn’t believe the rules placed in front of me. They don’t keep score. Unlimited outs. Everyone bats. Batters keep running until an infielder has possession and holds it over their head. Everyone gets a snack after each game and everyone gets a trophy at the end of the year. To me, that isn’t baseball… that is batting practice. To be honest, I am actually offended at the rules. I understand that these kids are 4-5yrs old but to me that is old enough to recognize that you can’t just show up and get rewarded for it. If that is the case then let’s just have them play from home on the Wii.
Maybe I am just a hard ass and all this doesn’t matter. Maybe when they get a few years older and the next league actually has outs, innings, and they keep score things like that will make sense. However, I can’t help but think… kids for centuries have been playing sports and keeping scores – there were winners and losers. The world moved on when you lost and you could either chose to go home and practice and get better or go home and decide that you wanted to try your hand at something else that you could excel at so you didn’t have to go back to the field next week and get cremated by your superior opponent. Likewise, even the winners could chose to practice and maintain their greatness or sit around and lose later to the guy who went home and worked out and practiced to get better.
I can’t help but to inject my political beliefs into all this and this is what I think I am most upset about. Today we are taught that it doesn’t matter what you do – all you have to do is exist and you are a winner. If you draw a picture as a kid, you’re Da Vinci. If you get a C in school (when last year you got straight A’s) then bravo, you passed. Show up to a sporting event and presto, you’re a winner. Buy a house and default on it – that’s OK, someone else will bail you out or force your lender to lower your contractual agreements so you can “afford” it. How about your business -want to take exponentially risky and unethical moves? That’s OK, you’re too big to fail and the American public will bail you out. Anyone and everyone should go to school and when you graduate everyone thinks they should be awarded that $80,000 job they were promised. Never mind that half the kids your age also graduated with the same degree and the market is super saturated with your degree, you were at the bottom of your class, you only showed up to a third of your classes, and you have no idea how to even balance a check book – the government is going to help you pay your bills by either completely forgiving your debt or forcing your lender to reduce the amount you owe. No responsibility for your actions these days.
Greatness and success used to be awarded to those who went home and busted their rump to make it to the top. They knew that if they were too risky or didn’t work hard enough that they would be left with nothing except failure. They kept score with their competition – in the classroom or on the field. They wanted to be the best – for the trophy, the resume, the report card, or the fame. Today all that is gone “because we just want kids to have fun” or “we don’t want to hurt their feelings.”
I say that is hogwash and that type of attitude is an underlying reason why society has some of the problems we have today.