Tales from the Classroom, Part VI: When Winning is, Well, Losing

Alright, I’m going to get right to the point. I’ve finally been pushed over the edge. For the third time in the past month I’ve heard the following words uttered in one context or another from one of my students. Although different sports were involved, in each incident the conversation went something like this:
“Hey Mr. Shoe! Did you hear about our soccer tournament last weekend? We won third place!”

Wait. What? You WON third place? What is this, some psychobabble nonsense somebody came up with in order to save our kids from damage to their self-esteem? Good Lord. You know, I think I first heard this senseless phrase last summer when some Euro Trash announcer proclaimed that some biker in the Tour De France had “won second place” in some stage of the race or something. At the time I attributed it to the fact that the announcer was French and well, the French are usually gutless wussies fairly sensitive folk. But, I guess I was wrong. It’s a phenomenon that’s caught on right here in my neighborhood. May God, and Bobby Knight, have mercy on our souls.

Oh by the way, I really feel better now knowing that we won 2nd place in that ’72 Olympic basketball game against the Russians. And to think that for all these years I thought we lost. Whew. That’s a relief.

Additional thought: Can you win 12th place? Just sayin’.

So here’s where we stand, America. We have kids who are “winning” third place, Junior High games where we don’t keep score, coaches who aren’t allowed to cut players, teams in which every kid is guaranteed to get playing time, teachers who aren’t allowed to give grades, parents who are suing little league coaches who don’t play their kids, gym classes where competition is discouraged, and soccer teams with 12 captains.


Listen, I know our kids need us at times and my son knew I was there for him if he had a serious problem. But doesn’t anybody realize that by protecting our kids from every type of adversity they may face, we are preventing them from learning how to deal with that adversity? That only by letting our kids face and conquer their problems on their own will they learn to handle them in the future? Is it that so hard to understand?

Apparently so.

One thought on “Tales from the Classroom, Part VI: When Winning is, Well, Losing”

  1. I’ve witnessed this many times, most recently during the Jr. Hi. track season. I suppose it’s good that a ton of kids went out for the track team. But, at some place in the process a coach should have said to half of them, “You either don’t really want to be here or, you really should consider the arts,” and then make some cuts.

    That same coach should also say to shot putters and discus throwers, “You know, if you’re really giving it all and putting your very being into maximizing your distance, your attempt should include at minimum a mild grunt as a way of expressing your seriousness. Also, you may want to hand around the ring long enough to see how you did!”

    We may be raising yet another generation of Franco-American wussies!

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