My kids have all played in a soccer league where everyone wins. Each player gets a trophy whether they place first or last. My daughter put this whole concept in perfect perspective, “If we all get the same trophy why should I even push myself to work harder and score a goal.”
(Awww, a proud moment for her parents who want their kids to think critically.)
I started to think about the society we live in and how we are encouraged to play in this same type of league in life. We are all equals, we all are encouraged to play by the same rules and there are no losers because everyone wins. We have heard the phrases; level playing field, sharing the wealth and social justice. They all sound so promising and hopeful almost like a marketing campaign ready to sign me up.
However, I think we have lost our focus in what justice for all means. See this country has evolved into a nation where we are free to discover our dreams no matter what race, religion, gender or creed. This means we won’t necessarily all succeed and some might even fail but we are all given the opportunity to play the game.
Now our kids have begun to play sports in a league where there is more competition and at the end of the finals there is a winning team and a bottom scoring team. We have found that our kids learn the needed skills for the game in this type of league. They enjoy playing more and like challenging themselves to do better. Sometimes they learn that other kids play the game unfairly. There are games where the referees make lousy calls. As a parent, I sit on the sidelines and want to shout, “That’s not fair”. It is a natural tendency to want my child to be the winner but it’s not realistic.
I don’t want my children to grow up in a level playing field. I certainly do not feel that my children are automatically entitled to a trophy no matter what they have done in life. I want my children to have a realistic view of life. They might succeed and they might have defeats but I want them to have the skills in life to handle both. As a parent, I have to prepare myself that there might be times in their lives that will not be fair. However, I believe I should sit on the sidelines and cheer them on and keep encouraging them to do their best no matter what life throws at them.
Maybe there is some truth in the saying, “It’s not whether you win or lose but how you play the game.” See if the trophy is automatically handed to them they have only learned that it is all about them and what they deserve. I want my children to EARN the trophy and if they don’t, I hope they can be happy for those that have succeeded and move on and keep getting better at the game.