I heard something on TV this morning that got me to thinking. It was all about the awards that are given out in the sports arena, especially for kids up to about high school age.
The discussion was about giving awards out to all the members of a winning team vs giving one for Best Player or Most Valuable Player, etc., as well as giving awards to every kid who participates in a sporting event of any kind, even if it is a one-on-one event. The whole idea is involved with the self-image of the kid.
When my kids were young, they were never involved in anything but Boy and Girl Scouts...no Little League or Softball, etc. But some of their respective friends were, and we often went as a family to watch the boys' Little League games or the Girls Softball League. We saw pats on the head and great praises given to all members of the winning team, with the Captain usually given a trophy, and certain players, both boys and girls, being given trophies or ribbons for Most Valuable Player and so on.
Those kids on the winning teams who didn't get trophies never cried or complained. They crowded around their captains and ohed and ahed about his trophy, which would soon have ALL of their names on it; they admired the MVP awards, and stoutly maintained that next season it would go to them. They they all whooped and hollered, and went gleefully off to the local pizza parlor to celebrate. Ego? What was that? Self-image? Wasn't that what you saw in the mirror?
Today, it seems that things are different. In order to ensure a good self-image, EVERYONE on the winning team must have a trophy...each exactly the same. Who determined that? The kids? No, I don't think so. From what I've been hearing and reading lately, the whimpy kids who didn't get a trophy decided to throw a bunch of tantrums, so the parents got together, stormed the fortress of the coaches, and demanded a change. Instead of sitting the kids down, and explaining why some get trophies and others don't, instead of teaching the kids good sportsmanship, and what it takes to make a winning team, the parents give in to bad manners and spoiled actions, and take issue with time-honored traditions.
What does it teach a child about doing his best when his best is never treated any differently from someone who just "gets along?" Doesn't it teach that mediocrity is all you need to get "the spoils of war?" Doesn't it teach that there is really no point in working hard and putting more effort into "being the best", because you are going to get the exact same kind of recognition that every other child gets, no matter what?
"They" say that giving the same award to all the kids, in any kind of competition today, not just solely for sports, is "improving" their self-image, but that giving recognition to ONLY those who win, or get the best grade in an essay contest, or whatever kind of competition is going on, is going to deflate the ego and damage the self-image of the child.
Yet...we are a society of people who strive daily to do their best...to succeed, to achieve goals. Our nation is built upon the premise that we are the strongest because we are the best...we are composed of people who have always put forth their best. Mediocrity has never had its place in the building and prosperity of America.
So if we are now teaching our children that everyone wins, that there is no "best effort" needed to win the prize, whatever it may be, what does that bode for this country and this society? Will we become, in future generations, a society of mediocrity, a nation no longer the strongest and the best? If we teach our children that everyone wins, that there is no clearly defined "winner," that "their best" is just not necessary, what does that mean?
Self-image should not be based upon a group mentality, whether it is one of superiority or of medocrity. It should be an independent collection of one's unique talents, abilities, and feelings of worth to others in his/her family, friends and community. But if kids grow up to believe that everything they do, learn, know, and show to others is the same, that no one does better or worse, knows more or less, learns more easily or with more difficulty, and so on, doesn't that mean that individuality is lost, and that "self-image" becomes a mere reflection of a group mentality?
What do you think?
Until next time,
That's a wrap.