“F” for Effort

A friend of mine has a daughter. He told me how she just won a foot race at school. She got a trophy for her win. There was a problem though. “It doesn’t mean anything that I got a trophy,” she said. “Everyone else got one too, even the ones who walked for half the race.”

I know why we do this to these kids – it’s out of the desire not to leave anyone out. But it also takes away the desire to succeed! If everyone gets the same reward, what’s the point in trying? We don’t want the kids who lost to feel bad. Isn’t a little bit of that good for them, though? Feeling bad when they don’t win will help them try harder next time. We don’t have to rub it in, we can be encouraging, but giving them a reward for losing isn’t going to make them want to try any harder.

If we remove all competition, all we are doing is taking away the joy of those who tried hard and won. We aren’t making the losers feel any better. They still know they lost, only now they feel pitied and talked down to. Ultimately, not only does this backward thinking kill the drive to succeed, but it drives everyone down, successful people and failures alike. Lack of competitiveness has hampered me throughout my life, made me less able to succeed. Now that we’ve looked at what the real result of our actions is, why would we want to do this to our future generations?

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