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Stop Telling Kids They Won When They Didn’t

There’s nothing like true competition for kids. Now I’m not talking about little kids. I’m talking about kids coming of age … teenagers or about to be teenagers.  

Like the kind of competition I got to see at the Penn Relays where my son and his teammates competed this past week.

The kind of competition where an administrator or parent can’t handicap the event—the kind where a “that-a-boy” means nothing—the kind where kids get to compete on a truly level playing field.

The kind where everyone knows who the winner is … and who the loser is. Just like real life.  

Good ole healthy competition where no one has to take a step back so someone doesn’t have to be a step behind—the kind where taking as many steps as fast and as hard as you can wins—a straight up, flat out competition.

You know what’s missing today?

Winners and losers.

That’s because there’s an attempt to create no discernible difference between the two. But there is a difference in spite of the Herculean effort of bleeding hearts to eliminate it.

There’s a difference between winning and losing.

But that difference is getting fuzzy because there’s a phobia surrounding the appearance of failure.

There are those who believe there is little or nothing to gain when kids fail. That kids lose their self-esteem when they don’t get to share in the decaying fruits of what from good intention has turned out to be a movement toward mass mediocrity.

Someone has determined that there’s nothing to gain from failure or loss … other than the loss of self-esteem.   

It doesn’t work that way.

Remedying failure by telling our kids they didn’t lose when they did … is a fruitless concept. Not allowing kids to lose, to fail, to acknowledge it is a bad idea.

And, while I’m on it, having the better competitor hold back or be held back so that the lesser competitor can compete is a lie. And kids know a lie. Knowing you lost and being told you didn’t doesn’t build confidence nor does it boost self esteem. It’s a lie—to both the looser and the winner—plain and simple.

And it sours the fruit for both.    

Honestly doing your best and losing carry lessons … important lessons. So does winning. There is something to learn from both. But only if kids are allowed to feel what it’s like to truly win or honestly lose.

Last week, hundreds … maybe even more than a thousand kids from more than 110 schools filed into the legendary Franklin Field wired for the opportunity to win a head-to-head all out race to be the best at the Penn Relays.  

It was a classic old-school foot race with only kids, batons, and stop watches—AWESOME!

And just one way to win—a knockout—the team that has the best time wins. And by best time I don’t mean the most fun—though the team with the best time always has the most fun.

No overt emphasis on having fun—only an emphasis on the fun of competition.

Real competitive fun comes at the expense of real competitive effort—in track and in life—and it’s worth the investment … win or lose.

But it’s a bad idea to minimize winners by sharing the spoils equally among those they defeat because it diminishes the effort it took to excel and separate from the rest of the field.   

I like the Pen Relays and what my kid, his teammates and the rest of the field got to take away that day.  

 The clock doesn’t lie—not everybody wins. Just like real life.    

Congratulations St. Francis track team.


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  • Response
    Response: rushessay reviews
    We have to stop the kid’s activities on the same purpose. Everyone wants to become on the same ways. They are going up on the same features of life. They are going up on the same ways. We have to cover the different qualities about the kids.

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