When did the word ‘competition’ become a dirty word, not to be uttered for fear of being made to feel guilty for wanting more? Or for fear of offending everyone? I read a post today that got me all fired up, enough to actually put my fingers to my keyboard and write this post. It was a post by the lovely Meagan at The Mum Project, I’m not going to rewrite it, but you can check it out here.
In my humble opinion, the last few generations of parents, teachers and the whole world in fact, have been pushing the idea on children that taking part is enough, there should be no winners or losers, everyone must be recognised. This has led to the current generation of people who think that they are entitled to have and to take whatever their precious hearts desire.
In My Experience
My first experience of this was about 9 years ago when we were still living in the UK. My husband and I attended my step-daughter’s first school sport’s day – she was about 6 years old. Think egg & spoon race, sack race etc. We went along and cheered for her during her races, and then we realised that not many other parents were cheering, everyone was standing there, clapping and enjoying themselves. And staring at us with very judgemental sideways glances, whispering behind their hands. I assumed their disapproving glances and whispers were the usual “There she is. The step-mother, the home-wrecker.” I wasn’t a home-wrecker but whatever helped them sleep at night.
So what was it then you might ask? Well there we were, over-excited, screaming, jumping up and down, shouting things like “Run”, “Faster”, “You can do it” “Go, go, go!”.
After the races were done, my step-daughter came running over to us, so excited to show us the ribbon she had got. We were happy she was excited but we were surprised because she had come second-from-last. It was then that we realised it wasn’t actually a race, and everyone got a ribbon for participating, there were no winners and no losers. So what was the point?
Then it dawned on us. The judgement that was being passed over us wasn’t because I, ‘the home-wrecker’ was there. It was because we were shouting encouragement and urging our child to win and, *gasp* beat the other children! OMG! The horror!
We were horrified. It was so completely opposite to how we both remembered our school sports days – back in the dark ages apparently! They were filled with sweat and tears, trophies and medals. No one got a medal if they didn’t earn it. No one got recognition simply for turning up! In fact, if you didn’t turn up to compulsory sports events, you were disciplined! Everyone was taught about good sportsmanship, and cheering on your teams, celebrating wins, being a team player and trying harder next time.
But on that day, we were clearly third-world neanderthals. Well that’s how we felt anyway.
The Current Reality
It wasn’t just Meagan’s post that prompted me to write this post though. I learned this week that the upcoming 5-a-side annual football tournament at the girl’s school will be giving out medals to all the players, regardless of whether their team wins or loses. I was completely shocked. It seems that even South Africa is now pandering to this belief that everyone must be made to feel like they are winning. Maybe I shouldn’t be shocked though, maybe I’m the one who has been living in a bubble, or the past maybe.
The more I thought about it though, the more angry I became; the more I realised that this, in my opinion, is exactly what is wrong with society now. I am sure that many, many people will disagree with me. So what.
The situation in South Africa now is that school children are being allowed to think that they are all owed places at university and that simply by attending school, they will and should qualify to get into university. And there must be places available for everyone who wants to go. Where is the competition? Is it right that they should lower the standard, lower the bar so that everyone gets the opportunity? No! Only the hardest working should be rewarded with places at university. It shouldn’t even be about money! Money should not be allowed to dictate who goes to university and who doesn’t, but that’s a rant for another time. I won’t go there now.
This is exactly why school leavers and graduates believe that they are owed jobs when they leave school. They went to school right? So now where is their job?
What does the future hold?
When you ask employers about why they turn down some applicants and then employ others they will come back and tell you that most school leavers go into the interviews with the wrong attitude. They go there to find out what they can get from the job in their package (salary, phone, car, medical aid, transport, bonus etc), rather than going in to the interview knowing that they are basically auditioning, that they need to show the interviewer why they should be employed, what they can do for the company, and what they are prepared to offer of themselves if they are just given the opportunity to prove themself. The company doesn’t need your demands, they need you to want to work for them. Who do these inexperienced entitled juveniles think they are, really?
But whose fault is it?
Can you blame those applicants? They’ve been handed everything their whole lives, made to believe they can have whatever they want, that just by turning up they should be rewarded! It’s enough.
It’s not enough.
So, getting back to my daughters, getting back to me parenting my daughters, what do I want? What will I do?
Do I want them to get recognition just for attending a compulsory school sporting event? No, I do not! If that does happen, fine, that’s on the school, but I sincerely hope the winners of the competition receive some higher form of recognition!
Do I want them to learn to fight for what is worth having! Absolutely!
Will I help them? Absolutely.
Will I do it for them? Not a chance.
If they don’t work hard enough and they fail, will I say ‘it’s okay, maybe next time?’ No, I blady won’t. Not if they weren’t trying hard enough, not if they weren’t putting in the time, or paying their dues!
If they work hard but still don’t achieve what they wanted to? I will help them, support them, maybe point them in a different direction playing to their strengths.
I will teach them to aim for the highest height that they can achieve; but they also need to understand that you can’t just have everything you want now, you have to work for it!
What is my job?
Isn’t it our job to prepare our children for the real world? Isn’t it our job to equip them to live a successful life? This is real life. Are we doing our job if we never let them actually work for anything and then chuck them out, in to the deep end? Is that really responsible? I don’t think it is.
You don’t have to be a CEO of a company and drive a fancy expensive car. What you do have to do is work hard to get what you want, because that way you will respect and appreciate what you have when you know how hard you worked for it.
No one should be recognised just for showing up! Be recognised for being great. Be recognised for working hard. Be recognised for doing good.
If there is no competition or standard of excellence, everyone and everything will be mediocre.
We can’t all be winners because then, by default, we are all losers.
How grey, dull and boring will that be?
Nothing worth having, comes easy.
The strong beautiful lady in my featured image is Chantè Finger, a family friend. She is an amazing beautiful woman who, with the support of her family works hard, trains hard and studies hard. She is the type of person I want my daughters to know and respect, she is a role model for young people. She has represented South Africa in athletics and is currently studying to be a nurse. You can follow her for more inspirational beautiful photos on her Instagram page: @chantefinger. Thanks for letting me use your photo Chantè. xx