Paul Jacob

There's nothing wrong with questioning the standards that are set for any endeavor, for any area of human activity whatsoever ? especially when it concerns our kids. Rules can, do and must change to meet changing circumstances. Of course.

But too often I hear common-sense standards thrown out simply because someone fails to meet the standard. Why? The resultant pain from failure can be far too great for children to bear. (Or most adults, I fear.) And as each failure threatens to destroy the child's sense of self esteem, even more remedial public school classes become required in that all-important subject. All of which leads to one question: What should the village do about it? (I think my taxes are going up again.)

So: toss aside the standards!

You've probably heard about the high schools that no longer award a valedictorian, the student with the top grade-point average, for fear of upsetting the runners-up and instilling that ugly atmosphere from years past, known as "a competitive environment."

My five-year old plays soccer at the community center. Her older sister played basketball there. Their leagues don't keep score. I understand. It's not such a bad idea, since almost anything that keeps parents from living vicariously through their kids and getting carried away with winning at all costs looks positive.

But my kids have always made me keep score anyway. "It's no fun if we don't even know what the score is," I'm told, or "They keep score on TV, Dad."

And it isn't just me, either. I see the other parents also mumbling the score under their breath so as not to forget . . . and risk disappointing their oh-so-fragile youngster.

The idea that kids need challenges, need standards to meet and exceed, that competition is not always a bad thing, well, who thinks like that anymore?

According to a recent article in The Washington Post, a youth football league run by the Prince George's County Boys & Girls Club in Maryland does still stand for standards. The league not only has age standards, but also weight requirements.

Post Reporter Hamil R. Harris puts these weight restrictions on trial. There are complaints. Kids who don't meet the weight and age requirements cannot play in a given league and must move up to a team in a "bigger" league.

This is done largely to avoid having really BIG kids playing against really small kids. An 11-year-old who's 6 feet tall and 200 pounds is different from the 11-year-old that is 4 foot 6 inches and 89 pounds. Someone could get hurt.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.