Some great satire from Pastor Randy, Participation Trophies Are To Blame Click to read the whole thing, it made me smile. I do love me some sharply worded satire.
Participation trophies, ban them, just ban them, they’ve become the root of all evil. Very funny, with some powerful whispers of truth.
On a more serious note, I watched the concept of the “participation trophy” roll across our culture, something that began back when I was in school. I didn’t attend public school much, 5th grade, 7th grade, 11th grade. I dropped out in 12th and I never looked back. One reason I became so disillusioned with education is because as a kid I was very smart, but no matter how hard I worked or studied, I could never actually achieve anything. I would get one of the highest scores ever on some test, but everyone else would get awards for “most improved.”
Envy is an ugly thing isn’t it? Just the same, I was a broken and wounded kid, pretty much alone in the world, and I remember not being invited to a class pizza party because it was designed to encourage those who were struggling. Four of us were left out, left in the library actually, and nothing is worst than smart kids left to twiddle their thumbs in the library. So we made some rubber band and spit wad weapons and a catapult and got ourselves suspended.
The day I did so well, scored so high, I got kicked out of school, rather than invited to a pizza party which led me to conclude, sheesh, I really am an idiot. Apparently I’m playing the game all wrong here. I learned some unpleasant things, that cultural approval is based far more on who you know, than what you know.
Our kids were spaced far apart so I got to watch this phenomenon grow and blossom and observe its impact. Is it any wonder to us that kid’s behavior in general has gotten worse and worse? Trouble is always where all the attention is to be found. There are many rewards for failure, encouragement offered, attention given. Rewards now given for poor performance and bad behavior. Our youngest child has been impacted the hardest. She’s smart too like her mom or perhaps even smarter, because she spotted the game immediately. I remember asking her to pick up some garbage one day and her saying, “why? How does this benefit me?”
Well mostly you’re allowed to go on breathing without the wrath of mom heaped upon you, but her question was a well-reasoned one. We’ve created a culture of rewards and punishments, so now simply doing the right thing requires a trophy, a reward, a pizza party, a sticker. And the success, the standard you are allegedly striving for? It is no longer rewarded. She’s grown and adjusted and adapted, but I cannot erase that sense of disillusionment for her because there is too much evidence of its truth all around her.
Does it surprise us that we now have people in the world incapable of engaging in a little bit of self-awareness, of losing gracefully and humbling examining why? Of accepting that failure is not only a common occurrence in life, but a good one that serves a necessary and vital purpose in the world?
Fail faster, fail harder, fail with great enthusiasm. That’s the real path to victory because that’s what makes you better.