June 4, 2010
Everyone’s a winner! Even the losers!
At least, that’s the way one Ottowa children’s soccer league has changed the rules. Under the new rules, any team that wins by more than five points automatically loses the game. There have been a lot of reactions to this, but the parents and players who are against it think it will coddle sore losers, prevent sportsmanship, and encourage laziness.
You know what? I agree with them.
It’s been a while since someone invoked the holy “Think of the children” defense, so let’s talk about the little rugrats.
Not every kid’s a winner. I know you think little Timmy is a gift from God, but little Timmy eats paste. Little Timmy doesn’t apply himself. Little Timmy thinks Asia is a country and liberals are coming to get him. Take it from a teacher and tutor… Not every kid is an angel. Some are snowflakes, unique and individual… and utterly useless once they land on solid ground.
Every child has potential. I believe this with every fiber of my being. However, not every kid has the drive to become all he or she can become. Children make choices, and if we don’t accept that, we don’t really see them as people. Yes, they’re immature, but they have to learn. And how do you best teach someone?
Let them experience the good and the bad.
I am sick of hearing parents going on and on about how teachers don’t pass students. No, buddy. No. Teachers write the grade. Students study and do the work and earn the grade. If we do our jobs right, we impart knowledge, we hopefully motivate, and then the student has to do his or her part. Likewise, sports teams practice and work together. If one team is better than the others, let them shine. Let their hard work show through. If another team sucks… they suck and they should practice more.
Adversity is the driving force that makes us great. Evolution is driven by trying to outdo the other guy, trying to be better. Eventually, hopefully, in any field from writing to sports, the best move the bar just a little bit higher for the next generation. It was one thing when everybody got a trophy just for participating. It was worse when they just stopped having awards ceremonies for those who excelled at school, at least in my district.
But now someone’s gone out and actually penalized people for doing a good job in their field?
If both teams abide by the rules and play fair, what’s the problem? I know someone reading this is already thinking, “Well, we penalize big companies, don’t we? We have anti-trust laws and the rich pay more taxes. It’ the same idea. They just want to make things fair for everyone.”
I’m talking about a sports match, not the widening gap between rich and poor. Those regulations exist because it’s easy for successful companies to buy favors and manipulate the system and capitalism has no incentive to care for people, just money. You get enough power, pretty soon you don’t have to play by the rules and then we have a massive ecological disaster in the Gulf. But this is a little league. The whole point is to win and do well. As the joke goes, if the point of the game isn’t winning, then why keep score?
Look, I know kids can be heartless. I know sports can give children self-esteem issues if they get pushed and ridiculed. I know that being pushed too hard to succeed can often lead to resentment, but children aren’t going to go out and want to succeed on their own. That’s the kind of mentality that very radical unschoolers follow. Don’t say “no” to a child, don’t let them do anything they don’t want, and somehow, magically, a child will find his or her way.
Big, flaming sack of crap.
The best students I ever had were the ones who knew what it felt like to fail. The best learning moments are the ones where you either do your best and feel the rush of success or you fail and fall flat on your face.
Don’t take this to mean I’m for just letting students and kids fail until they figure it out. Offer advice. Help when they ask. Be there if they fail to such an extent that it ever really does become an emotional problem.
But don’t congratulate them on a mediocre job. Be constructive.
Don’t hinder others just to make them feel better about themselves. That’s just as bad as cheating.
In short, if the kid wants to touch the hot pan to test if it really is hot… well, burn ointment isn’t that expensive.