Everyone is a winner.

1989 was the first year I heard “everyone is a winner.” I was coaching football for the City of Scottsdale. I loved coaching — I had teams that were very good and teams that were not so good. I loved those not-so-good teams because they were the ones that would always surprise me. They would play a great game against a superior team. They would compete on grit alone. Some of my not-so-good teams would surprise everyone by winning a game they should not have won. It built character. It taught them that hard work makes you better. And other times, they got creamed by higher seeds. And they learned how to be gracious losers. Yes, losers.

The “everyone is a winner” philosophy changed everything. Non-athletes and bleeding hearts began to run sports programs. They were children who never made the team. They did not want anyone to feel bad for not being able to win. The football tournament was thrown out the window. The teams started to get matched up with an eye towards not hurting anyone’s feelings. Teams that had horrible records played against teams that had equally horrible records. I hated it. They never had to confront insurmountable odds.Where was the underdog? Where was the upset? What could the kids strive for the next year? You always wanted to meet the team that whooped you the year before. You wanted revenge. But there was no longer vengeance, there were no longer bruised egos, there were no losers. Everyone got a beige colored ribbon. Congratulations.

In the Olympics in ancient Greece, the winner was given an olive wreath. There was no second place.

Everyone is a winner. No. Everyone is a loser. Everyone, everyone, everyone loses. Michael Jordan lost. Michael Phelps lost. Most athletes lose far more than they win. Most athletes are not once-in-a-generation Nike commercial phenoms. Everyone loses. I have been professing to my students that their greatest teacher is FALURE! It is the teacher they will have the rest of their lives.

So let your child lose. Teach them not to quit instead of gaming the system. Stop telling them that they deserve to make the team when they suck. Stop making your child’s teacher give your C child an A. And stop telling your kids that everyone is a winner. They aren’t.

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