Years ago already, a soccer league in Massachusetts banned keeping score in 10-and-under tournaments in deference to the feelings police. Some schools have eliminated the designations “Valedictorian” and “Salutatorian” because they’re too non-egalitarian. More recently, a Rhode Island school canceled its long tradition of an honors night (the decision has since been reversed following an outcry) because it was too “exclusive,” and, not to be outdone, a Michigan elementary school just distributed a flyer stating that the “urge to win” at their annual field day should be minimized because all students are “winners.”
There are obvious points to be made here, such as how this anti-competition mentality unjustly denies achievers their due. It’s also true that if you reward something — and excellence is no exception — you get more of it; if you don’t, you get less. But in our effort to protect losers’ feelings, we forget the other victims in this lunacy:
The losers themselves.
As a few of my readers know, for part of my life I was an aspiring tennis player. It was an all-consuming passion, and I wanted to be the best. I did become good, but, alas, I didn’t have the talent to rise to the grandest stage. What, though, if the playing field had been tilted so that I could somehow be made to appear as capable as Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi? Assuming I would have accepted such preference (I wouldn’t have), it could only have hurt me.
You see, there was great disappointment and pain associated with my failures, but, as C.S. Lewis said, “Pain is the megaphone God uses to get through to deaf ears.” My striving and stumbling built character, helped teach me what truly mattered, and, ultimately, steered me toward areas in which I was truly gifted. And now, with pain-perfected priorities, I’d much rather be spreading the Truth via tongue and pen than spending my time hitting a fuzzy ball around.
The point? This fixation with shielding kids from certain realities, such as failure and consequences, denies them necessary growth opportunities. Pain is the crucible in which the impurities are distilled from our souls.
What we’re seeing from the anti-competition crowd is a lack of depth, a superficial world view. Sure, they’re concerned about losers’ self-image, but if a person can’t handle losses, the problem doesn’t lie with the winners or any fair competition.
It lies with him — with his lack of humility.
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