Friday, June 6, 2014

Participation Awards Create Murderers

Unless you are one of those people who live off the grid you have no doubt noticed a recent uptick in the number of young murderers lately. School shootings, movie theater rampages, mall attacks, elevator stabbings, and countless other horrific headlines flood our 24 hour news media.

I am 32 years old so it is not like I say “back in my day” that often but, back in my day this was almost unheard of. In fact, until the Columbine shooting I don’t remember ever hearing of something like this. From time to time there was an accidental shooting (think Beverly Hills 90210) or an attempted WWF move that went horribly wrong but never a shooting spree.

From where I am standing this increase, in part, can be attributed to an overabundance of participation awards. Today everyone gets an award for everything and no one gets told they need to work a little harder anymore. Let’s use Little League sports as an example.  When I was growing up there were two to three “levels” for each team, (e.g. PAL A, B & C.). There was a tryout period that lasted about a week and you were then split up based on your talent level.

During the year there were no mandates by the league stating that everyone had to have a turn to bat every inning.  We had winners and losers, first and last place, and All-Star games for those who earned it. Trophies were given out to the first, second, and third place teams and only the best players got MVP awards.

Guess what? We all survived. We all knew our weaknesses. We all learned how to take constructive criticism and use it to strive to better ourselves. Do you think there would there be stories of athletes staying in gyms after the lights were shut off if they were told everyone was equally talented?

In t-ball now everyone bats, everyone gets a single and everyone scores. Every DAMN inning! I went to watch my nephew play and noticed that even if the throw beat the runner to first they were still safe. “What the hell is that?” I asked one of the coaches.  “We are trying to teach the kids the fundamentals,” he replied. “Isn’t getting out a fundamental?” And the coach replied, “By fundamentals I meant having fun and teamwork.  It isn’t about winning or losing.”

What is more fundamental in life than winning and losing? You either get the job or you don’t. You either get accepted into Harvard or you go to community college. There is no shame in either and nothing but positives to be taken from them. Work harder at your job or harder in school and when the opportunity arises again you will have set yourself apart.

We have created a society that cares more about preventing our kids from feeling bad than it does about helping them realize where they need to focus their energy. These kids that end up shooting up a school or a movie theater almost always have a back story of rejection. Whether it is rejection from the opposite sex, society, or the popular group at school adolescents have been plagued by this forever, yet these stories didn’t always exist.

My last blog post was something I was really proud of. Almost all of those who read it had nice things to say about it. I sent it to a friend of mine who happens to be writer and former editor. He found so many things to improve upon he set up a phone call to go over them with me.

After we hung up I was down about it for a little bit. As the day went on I realized what he said was true: it wasn’t good enough. I took what he had told me, rewrote the parts we discussed and resubmitted it. I didn’t take the first plane out to LA and hunt him down. I didn’t go on a rampage and shoot people. Why? Because I didn’t get participation awards.

How hard would you have studied for Algebra If you knew you were going to get a passing grade regardless?

Please be sure to leave a comment, pro or con..

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