Every once in a while it helps to get things off your chest. This is one of those times. In a recent article in National Review (guess you know my political persuasion) there was an article titled Happy Warrior. The author relates the story about Christine Laycob who is the director of counseling at a school in Missouri. She claims that best friends are a bad thing! She is actually encouraging kids not to pair up with a “best friend”.
Later in the article and unrelated to Laycob’s folly is the story of a soccer league in Ottawa Canada where any team that has a five goal lead would be deemed the loser and the losing team would be declared the winner, “to spare their feelings”. Would someone out there please explain these things to me? (There is a caveat here. I don’t know the ages of the players but I suspect they were very young and if they were there is some logic to this. Accent small!)
When I coached baseball I always had parent meetings before the season. I told them that we had three objectives for the season. We will teach kids the fundamentals of baseball, we will have fun, and we will play fairly to win. No one argued. Of course this was in the 80’s and in a suburb of overachievers. Those are three solid goals for any age, in any game, or in real life.
What message are the kids in Ottawa receiving? Guess what? In life there are winners and losers? Even if the Canadian rugrats were 4 years old the coach could always say, “kids, thanks for how hard all of you played. We’ll get ’em next time.” When should we begin to instill in our kids that competition and winning and losing are part of everyday life? We should not instill in our kids the idea that anything goes, winning is everything, no mercy. This is not the Roman Colosseum where death was the real agony of defeat. There is nothing wrong with instilling in kids at a young age that competition is healthy. The competition message can be altered and intensified depending on the age of the kid.
We all have mental tapes playing from our childhood. Those tapes never go away. They can be understood and put in perspective but they never go away. How will the “no winner/no loser” philosophy play out 10, 15, or 20 years down the road for the kid turned adult. That question bothers me a bit.
And back to Christine Laycob. To be fair there probably was more to this story than the NR writer included. Regardless. In light of the fact that American students are under performing academically why is this counseling director suggesting that “best friends” are not good? Christine, you are part of the problem! Go find a friend and get some feedback.