Mail-it-in Friday: Should we stop showering children with trophies?
Parenting is tricky.
We're smack-dab in the middle of the NFL preseason and while there are plenty of things to discuss about what we've seen on the field so far, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison made news this week with an interesting Instagram post.
In the interest of full disclosure, this is exactly what he said.
From that post, a few things are clear:
1. James Harrison loves his children.
2. James Harrison sounds like an excellent parent.
3. James Harrison wants his children motivated to be the best they can be.
4. James Harrison knows what it means to put in hard work.
All of the above are good things. However, when it comes to this topic, people definitely have differing opinions. So, in this edition of Mail-it-in Friday, I'll turn it over to you dear readers.
Does Harrison have a point? Should children only be rewarded on merits and rankings instead of just participation? Let's talk it out.
HERE WE GO
I want to cut that statement out and make a motivational poster out of it. I will then sell it to every Crossfit gym in the country and watch the devotees worship it before they proceed to do 30,000 burpees with a goat hanging on their backs.
Crossfit seems . . . challenging.
Oh, man. You just brought back tons of special Little League memories.
(Side note: I don't want to brag, but I had some power back in the day. And little Saraf wasn't up there taking pitches and wasting everyone's time with 10-minute plate appearances like Matt Carpenter. I was hacking from the second I stepped in the box.)
While I enjoyed getting out there and trying for a win, there was something in the back of my mind that was saying this:
That's right. The real prize came at the end of every game, when we were rewarded with chips and sodas. This was before it was considered bad parenting to give a child a friggin' Coca-Cola and a bag of Funyuns every now and then.
I could have struck out every time at the plate and gakked every fly ball hit in my direction. As long I got my snack at the end of the afternoon, the day was a success.
Damn right. For those of you who don't know, Kamesha is referencing to this Progressive "after-school special" ad:
Some are much more familiar with losing than others. The Buffalo Bills, for instance. The Minnesota Vikings. Betamax. Matthew Perry since "Friends" ended . . . seriously, when will someone find a show for him that won't get canceled after one season?
I, too, know the sting of failure. I never made the basketball team in high school, no matter how hard I tried. Coaches make a big deal about running up and down the court and shuffling your feet and stuff. I was more of a find an open corner to rain 3-pointers. I figured if Dennis Scott could make an NBA career out of doing that, why couldn't I? But I digress . . .
You have perfectly encapsulated my opinion on this. There is room for both approaches. Once children start nearing puberty, it's time to let them in on how the real world works.
Until then, let 'em have some fun and run around.
That's not for me to decide, but I do have evidence that could put him in the conversation:
Indeed, were I to have children, they would definitely not be a professional athlete if they got most of my genes. They would have a middling-to-subpar athletic resume that would end after high school.
My wife's side is a different story. Her brothers stand 6-8 and 6-10. Fingers crossed that our children take after that side of the family if they end up interested in sports.
No Filter Sports,
How did I get this job? Hmmm, all I can say is never underestimate the power of damning photo evidence.
Indeed. I plan to instill the following beliefs into my daughter or son right from birth:
1. It's weird that Luke Skywalker mouth-kissed his sister.
2. The Boston Celtics are the devil.
3. Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar rank higher than Michael Jordan on the list of greatest basketball players in history.
3. Stryper is a horrible band.
Anything else they want to believe is up to them.
I can see that. I was happy when I was presented with a trophy at the end of every Little League or rec league basketball season. I had a small collection of them on my dresser.
Then the years passed. As the athletic competition got tougher, my skills failed to progress and I never added to my modest number of trophies. Soon, they became an albatross. A constant reminder of all my sporting failures.
I became haunted by them as they taunted me with their presence. I would wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat and see the faint glow of that cheap gold paint standing out in the darkness.
"Why? Why wasn't I blessed with the God-given ability or desire to be a superstar athlete?"
Eventually, I burned them all and watched the smoke rise like Skywalker in front of Darth Vader's funeral pyre.
I'm kidding. None of that happened. The trophies are somewhere in my parents' garage gathering dust.
I'm trying to bring back the Whig Party. I like saying "whig." Whig, whig, whig. Make sure to pronounce the 'wh' sound in the word. Makes it better.
Whig, whig, whig, whig . . .
Yes, yes. You can't succeed at something without participating in it. Thank you, Mr. Literal.
I'm not sure the state of the American education system has anything to do with us giving out participation trophies to children.
However, your opinion is just a step or two away from:
I love it. As I get older, my "you damn kids" attitude grows.
Damn right. It's always the parents' fault. I can't wait to have children and completely drop the ball.
Alrighty, I'm gonna read some child development books and get ready for parenthood.
See you next time!