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.



  1. I like the first one because it gets right into the different dimensions of your family. But it also feels a bit like a list. I wonder if there is a way to reconcile that without losing what it is you hope is not genetic...

  2. I voted for #1. But I think you should omit the "And" and go with "I hope it's not genetic."

    Sounds very interesting and very intriguing!

  3. Nicholas - thanks for reading and voting. I'll see if I can rework it to not be a list.

    Julie - I agree to take out the "And" - can't believe I even put it in now.


  4. I totally agree with you. I helped out during my son's field day in 2nd or 3rd grade and all teachers agreed that the kids were old enough to handle winning and losing and we kept score and nobody's feelings got hurt and we had a great time.

  5. How would you know that winning isn't everything unless you lost once and a while? I don't think it's fair for kids to grow up thinking that everyone can be a winner, every time. What will they do when they realized that not everyone can be picked first or get a job they interview for?

  6. Life isn't fair. I loved striving for first. I never got it, but I still tried. Sports need to stop teaching my kids life is fair it's killing my disciplinary teachings. Mainly "Life isn't fair, so suck it up and go to your room" and "Life isn't fair, so suck it up and do your chores".

  7. Hi Buffi - Loving your blog - so true, pretending there's no competition is like pretending there is no such thing as failure. Failure seems to be taboo in parenting circles.... but failure is how we learn - we learn what we're good at, we learn what we're bad at, we learn how to be better and when not to bother trying 'cos we'll never be any good. It's rubbish to pretend that "little Jonny" is a great runner/thrower/athlete when he's clearly rubbish and should be concentrating on doing something else and becoming comfortable with the fact that athletics ain't his thing.
    All the best Fiona

  8. I really like not just this post but your blog. Maybe it's your general attitude I appreciate. It reminds me of my wife. Anyway, the truth is sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Certain elements in our culture are trying to change this but I'm not buying it. Competition is the fuel of innovation.


  9. Great post! So true! I'm all for competition, but when my son's baseball coach got into a fight with the umpire (swearing and all) because of the stress of not having a winning team, my son (then 7) never wanted to play again. He's 16 now and plays all other sports. PARENTS AND COACHES SET THE TONE! (Coaches are always the parents in my community). If the parent is o.k. with a loss, the kid will be fine too.
    I'm a new follower from the hop!
    Hope you can hop over to my blog:

  10. I so agree with you here! My husband was just saying last night that he read that because we have all of these "Safe" playgrounds for kids, this generation is lacking the ability to take calculated risks!

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