Where is modern civilization heading?

As a society are we heading in the same direction as the ancient Romans? If so the question becomes.......

Are our leaders fiddling while civilization burns?

While we ponder the question I will post my personal thoughts on this blog. Often I will focus on current events that catch my interest, however I am not and do not pretend to be a news organization. I'm simply a guy with his own thoughts on issues that I believe affect our country and society.

Be forewarned, I have been accused of being a right wing thinker and if that is offensive please move on. Remember, this is my blog and my opinions, and unlike many facets of our already over-governed modern society they are not being forced on anyone.

However, please feel free to leave your comments, good, bad or indifferent, after all this is a free society we live in (at least for now).

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Are there any losers left?

This past weekend my family and I had the good fortune to attend a hockey tournament with my sons team. These events are always a good time and provide the opportunity for the players and their families to get to know each other better.

However, they often highlight a pervasive attitude in our society that is anything but good. The attitude I refer to is what I call the "Participation Award". You know, the award that every child participating in an event gets, sometimes its a pendant, maybe a medal of certificate. It is generally the award that the team that didn't win gets by default.

At one time in sports if you were recognized for your efforts it was because they were exceptional. Those that invested their hearts and sweat into the game tended to deliver results and were in turn recognized for it by their teammates and fans, at times even by their opponents. This recognition in itself was a badge of honor and something to be strived for. If a player moved up the ranks into the professional arena this recognition brought additional rewards in the form of cash.

Now in today's world that concept has been abandoned in many areas our youth participate in. Take this weekends hockey tournament for example, six teams played to determine the top three. Seems simple enough? One team takes home the Gold, one the Silver, one the Bronze, the other three go home with nothing except achy muscles and a burning desire to work harder so that next time that they are taking home medals. That's the way if works, right?

Unfortunately not so, while the top three teams are recognized as the winners, often in these events everyone receives a medal presentation as their name is announced over the PA. So at the end of the day everyone , win or lose, goes home feeling proud of their accomplishment.

These feel good exercises generally bring a warm and fussy feeling to many of the players and their parents as they imagine themselves being part of something special. They speak of the hard work and how well the team played, and how they were so close except for a few unlucky breaks. All of this I believe is part of an effort to mask an ugly truth. The Team Lost! The bottom line is the kids on the losing team were not up to the task and likely the other team was better.

Is there any shame in this? Not from where I sit, every game has a winner and a loser. To me where the shame comes in is when the attempt is made by parents, coaches, and organizers to "whitewash" reality by trying to convince the losing team they "accomplished something special". There is nothing special about losing, hell that can be accomplished simply by not getting out of bed.

Hey, wait a minute Frustrated Joe quit being so hard on the parents and kids, after all the game is just for fun, right?

Yes, the purpose of sports for kids is to have fun, first and foremost. However, intentionally or not, team sports instill in children a few important values that will be essential in their later life if they hope to succeed.

- Teamwork, the ability to work with others towards a common goal. Sometimes you have to set aside  personal goals in the best interest of the group. In hockey it may be as simple as passing the puck rather than taking the shot on goal yourself.

- Sweat Equity, reaching a goal usually requires, focus, hard work, and generally a sacrifice of time. If you don't invest the effort don't whine about coming in last, chances are your opponent worked harder than you to take home the gold, and quite frankly if they did achieve it through investing more then they deserve to win!

- Life Sucks at Times, Once in a while the other guy will simply beat you, its not always fair, but that is life so you better learn how to deal with it early in life or you will have a lot of disappointment over the years

- Losing is losing, Dress it up as you will, your still not the winner. Depending on your attitude and work ethic, maybe it is a good time to get used to it.

So, when you "whitewash" a teams losing efforts with words and phrases like, "good game', "you worked hard", "better luck next time" or maybe "you did the best you could" and then follow up with presenting a "Participation Medal" you are doing the kids no favor. You are however instilling a sense of self entitlement, that they deserve something for just getting out of bed and showing up. Now what are the long term repercussions of that message?

Think about it,  "they deserve something for just getting out of bed and showing up" does that not describe the mind set behind most of the Occupy movement and its drones?  The Occupy Drones are the perfect example of self entitled individuals that have been brainwashed to believe that if they simply "show up" they should have what the other fellow has earned through hard work and risk. Don't tell me you have forgotten this group of anarchistic squatters already? Here's a reminder ... Click Here

Even if we set aside the Occupy drones and just focus on real life, say when these kids hit the job market. Does anyone believe for a moment that "losing" or coming in second in their chosen profession will be rewarded. Not likely, as most employers tend to look for the winners, the best of the best, employee's that will bring them a return on their investment in wages and time. Having said that, employers do tend to "recognize" the losers in their work force, just not in a positive way. So when they are chastised by their employer for poor performance, tardiness, or just for being all around useless, who do we expect will pat them on the back and provide a word of encouragement about how special they are? Now on the other hand, if they are fortunate enough to be a member of many a union they will not only be rewarded for being average, but actually encouraged to be so. The good news for society (or the bad news for a loser) is that the union mentality is not entirely pervasive throughout our civilization and in most area's those that work hard and achieve are actually rewarded for their efforts.

Worse yet, when life slaps these kids down,  mommy may not be present to tell them that they did the best they could and that it's not important if they win. I can't imagine how they will function or carry on without this moral support.

Often when I have the above conversation with someone they respond by throwing out the old adage of "It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game" in defense of coddling a child and rewarding poor performance. What they miss is that this adage is intended to highlight the importance of "good sportsmanship", not defend, encourage, or reward poor performance. Apparently from what I have witnessed that is a parent's responsibility in many cases.

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