Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Generation of Mediocrity?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Work 6p-8a
First I should say that my only child is a neurotic golden retriever, and raising her to be a productive citizen of the dog world is difficult enough, so I have the utmost respect for good parents.

I take issue, however, with one of the trends in youth sports now, a trend that has been pushed by coddling parents. Even more so than when I was a child, parents are pushing for equal play time for all children regardless of skill or merit. In my area there is even a whole league dedicated to this type of team play. It is called Upwards (it is also a Christian sports league). I commiserate with the children who otherwise would see limited play time, but I believe in the lessons taught in earning a position on the first string and in learning to play a supporting role to others with different talents. Life is not fair, nor is it something that will accomodate weakness or inferiorities while also granting rewards equal to those with superior skills. One can choose not to better herself to earn a better life, but she must expect to maintain her current status which means that someone with superior skills or better work ethic will in some way "rise above" her. Such is the way of the world (at least until Obama takes all my hard work and shuffles my damn reward to some....okay I digress). We rob these children of this lesson by placing them in contrived and artifial situations.

As a child, I played every sport available to me which amounted to basketball, a brief stint at cheerleading, softball, and volleyball. At best, I was mediocre at everything other than volleyball which seemed to be my niche. I was never the best player on the team, and about half the time I played second string. But wherever or whenever I played, I gave it hell and played my heart out. I understood that if I were a better player, I would get to play more and in more active positions. And I understood that my job even when I wasn't actually on the field or court was to be a team player and support those who were. Jealousy was not in a true team player's vocabulary. After all, my true talents were academic ones. That was the gift that I had been given. Expecting to be athletic too would just have been greedy.

During those years, I learned a lot of life lessons. One of the most important ones being that things will not always go my way, no matter how much I wish for them to. However, if I were to work to make them go my way, for instance practice a little harder or try to be a little bolder in my play, sometimes things would change and I'd start to see them go more the way I liked. I learned that sometimes I could give 100% of what I had to offer, and it wasn't enough to win the game. And I learned that if I truly gave 100%, I had fewer regrets about the loss. Then, I learned to buck up, put that loss behind me and figure out how to beat the next opponent. Sometimes, even when I was the better player, politics would come into play and another girl would supercede me on the roster. This was not "fair," but it was life, and seeing that happen prepared me for injustices later down the line. Life is not fair. The victories go to the persistent, the tenacious, the people who realize that rewards do not come to you, you have to go out and work for them. Losses are inevitable as are games spent on the bench, but you learn from those and make yourself a better player from the experience. That some parents would trade an occasional set of hurt feelings for these invaluable life lessons saddens me and makes me worry that we are raising a generation of children who are being taught to settle for mediocrity.


5 rounds of the following:
20kg swing x 1 min
Rest 30 sec
16kg swing x 1 min
12kg overspeed swing x 20 sec
12kg swing x 40 sec
Repeat the 12kg min as above for a total of 3 minutes

Each round lasts 5.5 min.


  1. I think that it's not so much as preventing them from having life lessons, as it is the parents not wanting to admit to themselves that they're child is not special.

    I actually see it some in martial arts. Other kids will get promoted, but their kid isn't good enough. He lacks the discipline, doesn't know his forms, isn't focused on a target and just throws a kick or punch because that's what he was told to do, etc. They get mad, but blame us, instead of their child's lack of motivation at home. And they leave us, which is one of the cheapest schools around (and we've got some of the biggest name (as in highest ranked) masters in the area).

  2. Jen

    Fab post, You are right on. I have 2 teenage daughters. Their sport has been equestrian. Huntera and jumpers. There is a lot about this sport I don't like, but one thing..you (parents, trainer, rider, whoever) DO NOT argue with the judge. My kids learned early that you don't always get a ribbon.
    YOu compete for love of the sport, or I will yank your *ss off the horse.

    Fair..What a bogus concept, and a word I purged from my daughters' vocab.

    I too hate the whole dumbing down of EVERYTHING in our society, including sports.

    Anyone following T x Tech these days? Their QB was 40 for 50 saturday, for 460 yards, and hasn't thrown an interception in TEN games!

    So I guess he should sit on the bench now so someone else can play.

    Gimme a break!

  3. Love this post, I agree with you and it makes me sad because when you achieve something you want by working hard you have a fabulous feeling of accomplishment - it can be powerful and it makes you strive for more. I hate to think of youth missing out on that