There’s an obsession in America. It’s the fear of losing. Everyone has to do better than everyone else, and their kids have to be better than everyone else’s kids.
According to a report last night on NBC Nightly News, ambitious US parents are hiring ‘sports tutors’ to give their kids a leg-up on the rest of the field. Their aim: to turn kids into super-athletes who can saturate their parent’s egotistical demands by winning glory, and a place for themselves in college.
“Everyone wants their kid to be competitive,” says the mother of one twelve year old attending rigorous, daily, two-hour sessions five days a week at one of the many private sports facilities opening up throughout the nation, as this lucrative business is aggressively marketed to parents – at $35.00 per 2-hour session.
To an observer of life and culture in this country the comment, spoken with such obvious enthusiasm by this mother, encompasses virtually everything wrong with America today. Everybody in the US is competing with everyone else. There is no togetherness, except within families where all are dedicated to doing better than the folks next door, or further down the street.
Competition, the iron core of educational policies in this country for decades, is driving people apart from their neighbors. It’s the reason for those ridiculous car stickers:
“My Kid’s an Honor’s Student”,
“My Gamer Kid Fragged Your Honor Student.”
We’ve all seen them.
At town boundaries throughout America stand old metal signs proclaiming the athletic achievements of once young townspeople, now either long dead or drawing their retirement pensions.
Who cares? Obviously, America cares; but why?
Why is it so important that your kid jumps higher, runs faster, or throws a ball further than the rest of the kids in the school? Is it so you can brag about it to your friends and make them feel inferior because their kids are just no good at sports?
If so, you should be ashamed, and you deserve to have no friends.
Competition is like religion, it segregates and divides, not just this country, but the world. Once, it wasn’t like that. Fifty years ago there was ‘sportsmanship’. It was the taking part, not the winning, that mattered. Professional athletes were barred from the Olympic Games. It was good to win a medal for one’s country, but it was the being there that really counted.
Now, American parents shell out thousands of dollars and ruin their kids’ childhoods by pushing them to limits of physical endurance no child should have to tolerate. All in the name of “Competition”.
There is another way.
Why not take “Competition” out of life altogether, and replace it with “Co-operation”?
Instead of the Jones’s wearing themselves and their kids out, by pushing them relentlessly towards achieving more than the Adams’ kids next door, wouldn’t it be nice if they all cooperated and helped each other to do well?
We could all sport new bumper stickers:
“Cooperation’s Cool, Competition’s for Clods.”
It’s a lesson that could also be carried into other aspects of life: the boardroom, the shop floor, the office, Capital Hill, the White House, attitudes towards other nations…….the list is almost endless.
One day it might even bring peace to this world, and we could all play our games and enjoy taking part – without that obsessive fear of losing.
NOTE: For those unaware of the meaning of the verb “to frag”: “Frag is a term from the Vietnam War, most commonly meaning to assassinate an unpopular member of one’s own fighting unit by dropping a fragmentation grenade into the victim’s tent at night.”
Still think competition is a GOOD thing?
Filed under: Better ways