Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Will Everyone Get a Medal?

Every athlete who qualified for the Olympics can be very proud of that achievement.  I congratulate all!  As the games commence and the various competitions take place, we will find out who is best in the world in each event.  And we will find out who is second best and third best and so on.  The first three places get a medal — gold, silver and bronze.  There is no medal for fourth place. 

We are used to that.  We expect it. 

In the olden days, when I started in Little League baseball, not everyone who tried out made the team.  (That is why they called it try-outs.)  Only one tearm won the championship trophy.  In swimming, they kept track of places.  In each race, only one competitor got a blue ribbon.  In high school athletics, not everyone letters, which is why each letter winner should be proud of the accomplishment.

Not many high school athletes become college athletes.  Not many college athletes make it to the pros.  We understand that because those of us who have been around for awhile are used to that pyramid of success in sports. 

I wonder if giving trophies to each participant in youth sports is a good idea.  I suppose the intent of that has something to do with self-esteem.  .  I wonder if works.  I bet that even little kids, if they are old enough to count, keep score.  They know who wins games.  They know who crosses the finish line first in races.  Isn’t it condescending to tell the kid who crosses the line last that everyone did real good and gets a blue ribbon?  Isn’t it a joke when every team gets a trophy? Does not that actually denigrate  the value of the trophy for the team that actually won the league championship?

Even if the little participants buy the ruse, is it preparing them for real life?  Will they be surprised when the trophies are passed out and they come up empty-hpanded?

I like the Olympics.  It is satisfying to see excellence recognized.  A gold medal would not mean much if everyone got one.

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