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Dodgeball Anyone?

Author: D Anthony, D-Rose Impressions, 03/02

* Excerpt from the motivational and inspirational book,
The Nurse in the Delivery Room Slapped Me... Once *


They're trying to ban Dodge-ball in schools. Yes… Dodgeball - that simple little game we played as children long ago. While there are variations to the game, the object remains to avoid being hit by the ball. Apparently the people trying to eliminate it's existence from schools and playgrounds across the country believe the game to be too harsh. In their estimation the process of hitting and getting hit by the ball can promote feelings of aggression, increased competitiveness, dejection and doubt.

Okay… what am I missing? It's a game. And to my recollection (it's been a while since childhood), games typically have winners and losers. And depending on the game, some characteristic (intelligence, size, speed, ingenuity, etc.) is integrated with strategy, the will to compete and sometimes a little luck to determine the outcome. It's a great feeling to be the winner… and it's not so great when you are not. So if you find yourself on the short end today, you will need to tweak your capabilities, strategy and possibly your will to compete to enhance future results. That not only sounds a lot like dodge-ball… it sounds a lot like life.

Watching the news segment, it wasn't long before my perspective on the topic materialized. It seems as a society we are spending so much time coddling our children, eliminating challenging situations, avoiding exposure to any difficulty and telling and formulating excuses for lack of performance - that with each passing generation the youth is growing up less equipped to deal with the realities of life. Each new generation is producing increasingly fewer adults with true respect for old fashion values like character, persistence, sportsmanship (win or lose), patience, humility and strong work ethic - not to mention overall mental, physical and emotional toughness.

Several months back, I saw a health related show on cable dealing with the rising rate of physical illness such as allergies in teenagers and young adults. One theory proposed… more and more children are being raised in a sheltered way, often shielded from typical activities such as playing in dirt, exposure to germs and contact with whatever else kids get into. Lack of exposure at an early age to these harmful elements often results in the body's failure to develop the antibodies and immunities required for adulthood. As a result, increasingly more adults are susceptible to traditionally inconsequential exposure. In other words, as J. Willard Marriott put it - "Good timber does not grow with ease; the stronger the wind, the stronger the trees."

Worse… we are becoming a society of entitlement. Tried and true concept of ideas such as the value of personal effort, responsibility, pride in one's work, diligence, earning one's keep and making one's own way are increasingly giving way to today's feel good perspectives of 'recognize everyone', 'everyone's a winner' and 'reward the group, not the individual'. What's the motivation for trying your best in such an environment? What is the motivation for personal growth… for being stronger… for finding a new way? Think about it… one of the primary reasons for capitalism's success in the world economy is simply the fact that at it's very core is the belief that it's not everyone being equal which drives an economy, only that everyone have opportunity to succeed - and be rewarded for their relative results. It's a simple yet powerful concept that fosters personal growth and innovation for all.

I'm not sure where I was the day that competition became a bad thing… but apparently in some circles it has. Growing up in the inner city, often times the most stressful times in my childhood were competitive - whether in school or in the playground. Because of those experiences however, nothing fazes me today in the corporate world because I've seen worse. Bullies and various other types who didn't have my best interest at heart had to be dealt with. Because of those times, I have effectively been prepared for pretty much anything that comes along. And today… I wouldn't trade those lessons for anything.

Thus, my contention is that, as is evident with seemingly every other species on the planet, competition facilitates individual growth, fortitude, humility, honor and toughness - it is the foundation of the strength and ultimate accomplishments of the group as a whole. Lack of competition on the other hand is a formula for complacency, a 'what about me' mentality and a collective migration toward the lowest common denominator. Success, innovation, pride, growth, belief in one's self… these are all important personal goals leading to collective advancement for the society. Competition is the foundation that facilitates enhancement, and thus makes achievement possible.

In this changing world increasingly stronger, more talented, more dedicated people will be required for us to prosper. Our children will need to be stronger, more focused and more passionate. Now is the time to change the trend… to introduce more competition in our children's lives not less.

A little Dodgeball anyone?





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