Lies they Tell the Chirrens: We're all Winners!

You know, I've always felt it was such a disservice to kids nowadays that we tell them that everybody wins. Of course, not everything in life is a contest (just all the important shit), but I'm talking about this new age feel good nonsense in youth sports and other competitive activities where "we don't keep score" and "everybody makes the team" and "there are no losers" and at the end of the day, everyone walks home with the exact same trophy because, hey...we're ALL the winner, right? There's no such thing as losing...as long as you tried, you're a winner just like everybody else...right?

Well, that is until real life takes over and blows that bullshit out of the water. You see, by the time real life comes around (earlier than you think), they suddenly have to get used to the very jarring fact that we're not all winners. We do keep score. Everyone is not good enough to do everything. There are losers...and if you're one, you don't get no damn trophy. It can be a hell of a transition...one minute you're the kid the coach kind of encourages to stay close to him (and off the field) because he "wants you to listen up and be good and rested when you get your chance" and the very next year you're the kid in the fetal position bawling your eyes out in front of the entire cafeteria as all your more athletic friends slap high-fives and walk around in their new jerseys (nobody wants to be that kid...or know him in public).

It doesn't even have to be athletic...at some schools' science fairs, we don't have winners any more...so what Billy made a fair-to-poor baking soda volcano and Johnny created a perpetual motion machine using K'nex and rubber bands...all things are equal, and everyone just gets a piece of paper that says "you did...something!" to hang on the refrigerator until mommy needs more space for her shopping list and it quietly gets moved to the trash. It's going even farther...some schools have "no wrong answer" policies where every student's answer has merit no matter how inane. (No, dumbass, of course there are wrong answers...they're all the ones besides the right ones!) At a certain point, it gets counterproductive.

Hell, it gets deeper...high schools are doing away with yearbook "best" competitions because some grown ass kids can't handle not being mentioned for anything special, despite not doing anything special. We can't recognize superiority any more? In a given activity, are there no more bright flashes of aptitiude or dim voids of ineptitude, just a big gray blob of forced equalistic mediocrity? That's some of the stupidest shit I've ever heard. If you're not good at something, either improve or find something else to be good at...but you don't deserve an award simply for inhaling near a group activity (otherwise I'd have earned a wall full of trophies, medals, busts and plaques since freshman year of college).

I don't know...to me, it's insanity. People say it's fair, but I have a hard time with that. You know how kids who never get sick are more susceptible to illness when they get older? They have to get sick sometimes, otherwise they never build up an immunity. You've heard what happens to a dream deferred, right? What do you think happens to a nightmare? I have no way to be sure about this, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't shrivel up like a raisin in the sun...no, it swells and becomes like a giant prune to lubricate the metaphorical digestive system of life so it can shit all over you in one lump sum. Now tell me something...is that fair?

Listen, it's not all about winning and losing. Our entire existence is more than a zero-sum game. Life is more than a series of competitions, and I feel that's an important life lesson...but to try to teach it by putting kids in an insulated fail bubble for as long as possible, while an honorable intent, is just the wrong way to go about it. Of course there are losers...if there are no losers, there are no winners. Kids have to learn that failure and rejection are part of life. Your WHOLE life. More than that, they are often the catalyst to success to those who are determined, and that spirit is far more valuable than placebos of encouagement. Don't let Charlie Sheen and his legion of imitators fool you...everybody is NOT winning (seriously, we can drop that now, k?) ...and that's why this is just another lie they tell the chirrens.


xanthuskidd said...

You are the sum of all your past actions... Unless of course, you're politically correct. Then we can't allow you to have any better actions than others. So, technically, we're going to average your actions with Sally's over here and give you the same score. ;)

Johannthecabbie said...

When Bloomberg got himself elected mayor, one of his first priorities was to end social promotion, the practice of promoting all kids to the next grade no matter how badly they do on the course work. You see, it was bad for self extreme to make the kiddies repeat third grade if they couldn't read, so they were promoted along. Then people were shocked to discover that done kids still couldn't read come graduation time.

So, Bloomberg ended the practice, and the parents screamed and wailed. Even the ones that couldn't read.

Akanksha said...

Hey nice one ,totally on the side that in life there is never 'always the winner ' kind of concept. Sometimes loosing also teaches us lots of things that help us later on to become real winner.

Jenn Thorson said...

I agree the awards for just participating are excessive, as it doesn't encourage excellence and it doesn't push you to try harder.

Somewhere there has to be a happy medium between the "everybody wins" idea and the kind of high-pressure parenting Amy Chua the Tiger Mom did (have you read about her?), where the kid is forced to excel to the point there is no nurturing of her own interests and it's almost abusive.

SprigBlossoms said...

Enjoyed reading your post and it raises an important point. The right balance, I guess, is key. To work hard pursuing our dreams and goals as well to feel a sense of fulfillment from it. Also I believe that 'balance' is a personal matter, meaning that each individual might need more or less of one based on their age, experience, temperament, etc.

zobop republic said...

If we as a competitive society want all of our children to be winners, put them into the Special Olympics!

...And I'm serious too!

JaneneMurphy said...

Everybody doesn't always win, but everybody always has a place. Kids have to learn to celebrate themselves, even if they are not the best. They also have to learn how to celebrate other's victories and how to stand up after you fall. I'm with Jenn, we have to find a way to teach both of these things to our children. And that bit about people who had no illness as a child being more susceptible? Great analogy.