Saturday, April 2, 2011

Protect Our Children, Stop Keeping Score?

PhotobucketWhen I was a kid, Field Day was the Olympics of grade school. It was a day we looked forward to all year. It was our chance to win the coveted blue First-Place ribbon in kickball, sprints or the three-legged race.
It was my daughter’s fifth grade Field Day and I was in charge of the basketball throwing station. Adrenalin-filled voices echoed through the school yard, tickling my memories.

I instructed the kids, “Each team member gets one shot. The team with the highest score wins...”

A designer-clothes-wearing volunteer mom interrupted, “Oh no. We don’t keep score. Everybody’s a winner.”

Another Nosey-Nelly added, “She’s right. This is Field Day. This is supposed to be fun.”

What’s not fun about keeping score? These kids are ten; I think they can count. It’s mathematically and logically impossible for everyone to be a winner.

I said, “I tell you what, next year, you sign up to be Class Mom. Then you run field day however the hell you want. This year we’re keepin’ score.”

When did “Everybody’s-A-Winner” awards and “You-Participated” gold medals replace Fist-Place trophies? What are we teaching our children with these? Maybe an undeserved award will boost their self esteem. Maybe they can stare at the awards and pretend they don’t know who really won.

In the Newsweek article Winning Isn’t Everything…, Leslie Goldman writes, “But after a certain age, sports aren’t just about fun and games. They are a critical tool to teaching kids about discipline, hard work, and winning and losing.”

Life is unfair, but we can’t make it fair by pretending everyone’s a winner. We can make it fair by teaching our kids how to win gracefully and loose with dignity and find their special talent – that one thing that they want to achieve. We’re not all awarded the valedictorian title or presidential job, but we can all strive for it. In America, that’s called opportunity.

There’s much to be learned from losing and much to be learned from winning. I’m just not sure what’s learned from pretending we’re not competing.

Thanks for stopping by.
Please support me with your honesty.