“If you’re not first, you’re last,” the popular phrase by character Ricky Bobby in the film “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” is being changed to “If you’re first too much, we will make you last” in some parts of the country. Over the past few years, adults are punishing children for succeeding in the supposed name of fairness so that losing kids are being propped up as “winners.”
Take for example 9-year old Hudson Falls, NY resident Tyler Weaver who read 63 books this summer to win the title of top reader of the Hudson Falls Library reading program. Since he was in kindergarten, Tyler has won every competition, a total of 373 books in 5 years. But Tyler’s winning streak might come to an end if library director Marie Gandron has her way.
According to ABC News 10 in New York, Ms. Gandron feels that Tyler needs to recuse himself from future competitions to give other children a chance to win. The contest rules state that, “each child is required to read books at their grade level, and once the child completes the book, a librarian quizzes them on the content to make sure they actually read the book.”
When Tyler learned that the library may change the rules so that the winner’s name is simply chosen from a hat and not based on who read the most books, he expressed his dissatisfaction.
"She says for every 10 books, you get to put your name on a slip. But if some kid just reads 10 books and wins, it's not fair. He didn't put enough effort into it."
Thankfully, Tyler is receiving support from other librarians who believe Tyler should be able to continue to compete. Librarian Lita Casey has openly challenged the library director, arguing that, “The reason why I went to bat for him was that it doesn't seem right. Everything in life you've got to work for it if you want it.”
Unfortunately, punishing Tyler for his success is not the only example of adults trying to level the playing field for other kids. In 2011, 11-year old Demias Jimerson was told to stop scoring so many touchdowns in his middle school football games.
Jimerson’s school principal, Terri Bryant has decided that the student is so good he “must be stopped” and has instituted a rule that he is not allowed to score more than three touchdowns in a single game if his team has at least a 14-point lead.
Sadly, it appears that the new standard being set for our children is instilling equal outcome instead of equal opportunity. Demias Jimerson and Tyler Weaver are being punished for succeeding in school and on the field, being told that it’s not fair they are more talented or driven than other kids their age.
No longer is striving for excellence allowed, and some adults feel it is their duty to prevent children from wanting to excel in life. While there are some adults standing up for kids’ right to compete and win, society seems to be trending away from winners and losers to everyone’s a winner, except for the kid who actually won; he’s the real loser.