Americans love sports, as evidenced by the fact that the Super Bowl last Sunday was the most watched television event in history. While the game was a blowout and boring because of it, people didn’t tune in to see a tie, they watched to see one team beat the other, unambiguously. But sports, at least on the professional level, are just about the last bastion of meritocracy left in the country, and the damage its loss will bring to the future is immeasurable.
There were controversies this week in Silver Spring, Maryland, and with comedian Jerry Seinfeld that will have most Americans shaking their heads, but has progressives ringing their hands.
Some people are better at certain things than others. Some are good at school, others are good at sports (and some are good at both), and so on. This simple fact was once undeniable because, well, it’s a fact. But now there is a movement afoot not to deny that fact, but to obscure it, to insulate children from it so as to create the impression that everyone is special.
Lake Wobegon, the fictional boyhood home of Garrison Keillor, was noted because “all the children are above average.” While Lake Wobegon is an obvious fiction, some in the city of Silver Spring, Maryland, are seeking to create a virtual one, not by raising low-performing students to heights they’ve yet to achieve, but by refusing to acknowledge high-performing students because recognizing them might hurt the feelings of those not in that group.
The Washington Post ran a story this week about Eastern Middle School in Silver Spring and their plans to have a special pizza party, game room and dance for students who’ve gotten straight A’s. The story wasn’t celebrating students for an achievement most of us never reached, instead it was about how this singling out of students who achieved academic perfection would impact those students who didn’t.
“The students that don’t get to go end up feeling bad,” the mother of a child with an undescribed learning disability told the Post. Maybe, but so what? Have we really reached the point where we can’t celebrate success because not everyone achieves it in every situation?
Barbara Marinak, an associate professor of education at St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland, told the Post, “You’re creating a caste system that could easily result in bullying and victimization, which is what we’re trying to prevent, especially in middle school.”