The Thinker: Rich Galen


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Participation Trophies

Rich Galen

Monday November 14, 2016

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  • The demonstrations against the results of last Tuesday's election are the grown up equivalent of a child screaming and kicking at the Chinese restaurant because they don't have fish sticks and ketchup.

  • Act out all you want. Ain't gonna make over-battered, pre-formed fish and a bottle of sugary tomato sauce show up at your table.

  • The anti-Trump protesters can act out all they want but it's not going to cause the election to be re-run. At least not for the next four years.

  • It is a great understatement to say that Hillary Clinton's loss to Donald Trump was unexpected. It was so unexpected that I believe Hillary didn't come out early Wednesday morning last week to address her supporters in defeat because the Clinton team had never drafted a concession speech.

  • At least not one they actually believed they would ever have to use.

  • Some colleges and universities, alleged bastions of thinking that is at once deep and broad, have announced they have suspended classes and exams to allow their students to cope with their disappointment.

  • According to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education:
    About a month ago, Virginia Commonwealth University's Office of Multicultural Student Affairs began planning to offer its center as a safe space for students in the wake of the election results � the center is offering structured programs this week specifically geared toward the outcome of the election.

  • Know what causes this?

  • Participation trophies.

  • Like keeping your child totally separated from the normal stuff that kids used to get on their hands and put into their mouths by using only products that will kill 99.8% of all known pathogens until - what? They go to Florence for their semester abroad and miss the first 10 days, having gotten sick as hell because they have built up no immunities to bugs that occur in Italy as well as on the Upper West Side.

  • Participation trophies are given out to kids who lose at contests: Sports, spelling bees, science fairs, whatever.

  • The demonstrating children never went through the trauma of having lost. So, like a bacterium they'd never encountered before they went to Florence, when Trump defeated Clinton they had no immunity to deal with a loss.

  • If kids were allowed to lose at Little League or the spelling bee they would learn that disappointment is part of life, but it doesn't end it. You get to come back and try again next game, next season, next year and try again.

  • A 2014 article in the Washington Post about Millennials (loosely defined as individuals born between 1982 and 2004) there is a chart about participation trophies. Young people 18-24 said by 51-49 that all kids should get a trophy, not just the winners.

  • It will come no surprise to you when I tell you that by a margin of 29-67 respondents 65 years and older said only the winners should get a trophy.

  • I wish they had also asked how many of that latter group routinely sat on a lawn chair outside their front door so they could yell at the kids (participation trophies in hand) who walked on their lawn. But, they didn't.

  • It may be that you will never win. If you don't win at soccer, try another sport. There are lots of them.

  • At 5'6" I was pretty certain I would never make the basketball team in high school. So, I became the official scorer. I kept track of shots and fouls, produced the half-time and final stats for the coaches, and I called in the score to the local newspaper from a payphone when the game was over.

  • I was treated like a member of the team in the locker room and on the team bus. I came to practices to get a better feel of who was likely to shoot from where (and who was likely to commit a foul on defense). And, guess what? I got a letter just like the big kids.

  • Sometimes you will not get job you wanted, or the promotion you had your heart set on, nor the raise you had counted on.

  • Disappointing? Sure.

  • That's why most bars have a quiet table in a corner so your friends can buy you a beer or two and commiserate over the unfairness of it all.

  • However, if you collapse under the weight of the disappointment your friends will not - no matter what they say after the third bottle of wine - resign their jobs in solidarity with you, if you quit in protest.

  • Maybe no oath in the English language has been violated more often than "If you go; I go."

  • The anti-Trump demonstrators can spend the whole of the coming Winter on the streets of New York or Chicago for all I care.

  • Just don't expect a participation trophy for having done it.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring Page today: Links to the article about colleges offering safe spaces and to the participation trophy article in the WaPo. Also a link to the subscription drive on the off chance you meant to subscribe, but didn't get to it!

    The Mullfoto is a whimsical shot from downtown Washington, DC that I thought was interesting.

    -- END --

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