There’s a lot of noise being made out of the fact that James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers took away the trophies his sons were awarded for participation in a school sporting event. He claimed, quite smugly, that he didn’t want his boys to receive any sports related awards until they had “earned” them. This was of course followed by the multitudes sending him various forms of attaboys and other congratulatory vacuousness on social media, crowing about how well he was raising his boys and suggesting that if more parents made their kids actually earn their sports trophies then global warming would cease, wars would come to a halt and most diseases would be eradicated from earth. You know, everything would be better…
Folks, we’re talking about sports. And little kids. Little Kid Sports.
To my mind, the only way to earn a trophy in sports is to win games. Many of them. But when you win a game, you haven’t met a minimum standard. You haven’t beaten the minimum score required to be declared the winner. You only have to beat the other guy by one point. If the other guy doesn’t score a single home run, touchdown, basket or goal, then you are declared the winner just by scoring one. You just have to do your job correctly, once, and you are the champion. If you are lucky enough to be in a league were all the other teams suck, you just need to suck a little less, and you get a trophy.
In my college classes, when an instructor says that s/he is going to grade the class on a curve, they are basically saying that the entire class did so badly that the highest score in the class will now become an A, and all the other grades will be relative to that one. It means that everyone in the class basically sucked.
That is how sports are scored every day. Its the ultimate form of scoring on a curve. You don’t have to be very good at it. You just have to be better than the other guy who showed up. And you only have to be better by one point. To revive my college analogy, it’s like getting an A on a test upon which you scored only a 55 because no one else in the class got more than a 50.
And please don’t resurrect the idiocy of telling me how it teaches teamwork and leadership and everything else. It teaches nothing but unbridled, selfish competition, the evidence of which is the fact that we place so much emphasis on trophies. When is the last time you heard a great leader write in his autobiography that if it wasn’t for high school sports, he would never have gotten where he is. It’s bullshit.
Let the kids have the damned trophies. They don’t mean a damned thing and getting or losing them is not going to have one iota of impact on their lives. What are you gonna make them “earn” next? Food, hugs, kisses, love?