Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Everyone's a winner

I am struck, these days by the extra effort that seems to have gone into de-emphasizing competition. Whenever they play kickball or something similar in P.E. at K1 and K2's school, the teacher always says to the kids that they are not to keep score. It doesn't matter who wins or loses (it's how they play the game?). This summer at horse camp, first place ribbons were given out to all the riders (though when they are given out, the counselors always pick something positive to say, such as "most improved post-and-trot" which I liked).

Is winning and achieving something to be frowned on? Are children too young to learn the "agony of defeat?" Are we protecting them too much from disappointment? We don't have any experience in competitive leagues such as soccer or hockey but even with the de-emphasis, they instinctively know what it means to win or lose. When told not to keep score, some one always will.

Yet in this year's Olympics we celebrate an athlete's desire to win:
Michael Phelps - Phelps etched his name with Mark Spitz and Carl Lewis among the winningest Olympians ever with his third gold medal and third world record in as many days. ... Phelps all the way. “I hate to lose,” he said. “When you lose a race like that, it motivates me even more to try to swim faster.” (From an AP report.)
An announcer on NBC compares Michael Phelps desire to win (or his dislike in losing) to Tiger Woods. "He's the Tiger Woods of swimming."

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