Friday, September 19, 2008

Promoting Mediocrity

The little boy I'm taking care of had a soccer game last Saturday and when I asked him who won, he said that his team won 5 to 0, but only because his team wasn't allowed to score any more points after 5. I kept asking him to repeat this because I didn't understand why they couldn't score any more points, and he said:

"When the winning team scores five points and the other team hasn't scored yet we have to stop at five. If we score 6, the other team automatically wins the game."

I really couldn't wrap my brain around this and then he told me the kicker:

"AND when we get to five, we're not allowed to go on our half of the field anymore. It's called SPORTSMANSHIP."

"Noooooo, that's not what SPORTSMANSHIP is. That's called RIDICULOUS. I mean, those sucky teams know that they're sucky, right?"

"Of course, YEAH."

"I mean, wouldn't it just make them feel even suckier that the winning team has to STOP PLAYING SOCCER? If you were on the losing team, wouldn't you feel COMPLETELY EMBARRASSED?"


I know what it's like to be on a losing team. I went to a total nerd high school. A nerd high school that had a basketball team which was completely trounced by the opposing team during each and every game. The question wasn't whether or not we would win the game, it was: Are we going to lose by thirty points or sixty points?

And yet, our boys went out there and did the best they could. Sure, none of them went on to play for the Knicks, but they went out there and we cheered them on and we got ridiculously happy when we only lost by 20 points.

Are we so afraid of hurting our kids' feelings that we're going to change the rules of the game so that they won't feel so bad losing by fifteen points?

All of a sudden, it completely makes sense to me that when I was teaching at that lovely coed Catholic College in Lower Westchester, the students would neglect to turn in assignments or show up for class and still expect me to pass them. Parents don't make their kids face the very real truths and sometimes those truths are about themselves.

Parents are afraid to say:
No, you are NOT an excellent soccer player. GET OVER IT.

The county's slogan may as well be, "Westchester, Building Mediocrity, One Child at a Time."

I mean, c'mon Westchester! All your kids are going to grow up completely gutless and useless! Am I the only person that thinks this way?

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