Archive for Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Painful rejection

September 5, 2007


To the editor:

Few things are sadder than the lost, tearful look in a child's eyes when they fail to make a school team or activity they tried out for. They had their heart set on making it and worked through nervousness and fears for tryouts. To ask if I'm good enough, and to be told no, you're not, hurts. You're not as good as some of your friends and other classmates.

Sure, some people say the rejection helps prepare you for life experiences. Well, there are enough rejections and failures as you go through life - more than enough. Let them get through junior high school before telling them they're not good enough. You want to join and sing, sure we want you to sing. You may sing a little off key, but no one will hear as the group will cover you; just sing your heart out, smile, learn and enjoy.

Comforting the child isn't easy and your heart breaks for them. It was hard as a parent and it doesn't get any easier as a grandparent. Saying "I'm proud of you for trying" just doesn't heal the pain. "I'm proud of you for making it" puts a joyous smile and a look of pride on their face. Come on, coaches, instructors, teachers, put a smile on their face and give them confidence to keep trying.

Don Cole,



Rightytighty 10 years ago

I agree with dubya45 it makes children work harder and practice more. Without this there would be no drive to try hard at what you do. This article is ridiculous!

Bradley Menze 10 years ago

What's the thrill of making the team if tnere are no cuts?

Richard Heckler 10 years ago

Nell has got it right.

A worthless letter....hardly.

Ragingbear 10 years ago

Would you like us to come out and wrap your kid in bubble wrap for you? Or do you want to do it yourself so that they don't have contact with the real world at all?

nell 10 years ago

I don't know...lessons learned in the early years about being inclusive and accepting rather than competitive and exclusive might bring long-term benefits to society. Dub, are you saying that thrills are for the few? Righty, is your only source of motivation the desire to be better than someone else? Ugh.

imastinker 10 years ago

This is a good time to teach the lesson about why some people have different talents. If the child wants on the team, he/she may have to work harder than the other kids to make it. However, the child may be better in the classroom/band/art or any other activities.

All people have different talents

SettingTheRecordStraight 10 years ago

Society is based on equal opportunities, not equal outcomes. Therefore, I reject Nell and Merrill's assertations.

allateup 10 years ago

Don, not all schools have "cuts". There is still at least one school district that borders the Lawrence district that does still let all students play/sing/act.

sourpuss 10 years ago

At a certain point, you have to learn that you aren't good at everything. And honestly, shouldn't you work on things you have some talent for than trying to get your rusty, off-pitch pipes up to par? Take up drawing or science or dance, or whatever. You can't be fabulous at everything you do, so go find something else.

Sounds like this child's failure was harder on the parent than the child.

cowboy 10 years ago

A solid kid has to learn how to lose and win gracefully. we often times learn much more from our failures than our victories. encourage your kids to keep working at it.

TheYetiSpeaks 10 years ago

"I agree with dubya45 it makes children work harder and practice more."

Yes, because no great players or singers came out of small schools where everyone that wanted to participate did. What a bunch of hogwash.

jonas 10 years ago

Competition can be both healthy and unhealthy. An unqualified acceptance of everything or everyone at anytime is pretty much always unhealthy.

costello 10 years ago

While I agree that all kids should have a chance to enjoy athletic and artistic activities, there's no reason that the best athletes and artists shouldn't have a forum to hone their skills and have them celebrated by their family, friends, community, etc. [Personally I was a good student, but I have no athletic or creative talents. I do wish my parents had encouraged me to try harder in those areas, but that shouldn't mean the choir or the basketball team should have suffered to have me on the team.]

Yesterday my 15-year-old son saw one of those "my child is an honor student" bumper stickers and commented bitterly that people shouldn't put those stickers on their cars and make other kids feel bad.

I was astonished! I asked him if he thought anyone with talent should hide it in order to avoid making the rest of us feel less important.

Bud Stagg 10 years ago

You can learn just as much from a failure as you can from a success. There are too many poor losers out there. We all have successes and failures everyday, learning to deal with both is one of life's lessons and it should be learned early.

Baille 10 years ago

For those who have forgotten, Life at 11 is much different than Life at 23 - or should be. Around here it is sometimes hard to tell.

In the small towns (1A-2A) around Lawrence, everyone makes the team even if they don't all play in the games. Everyone can sing in choir even if they don't get the solo or selected for the ensembles. Everyone can play in band. Everyone can be a part of something larger.

Maybe that is not possible in Lawrence. But my kids play rec soccer because it is more important that they learn to play on team at 9 than learn how to deal with being kicked out of something they really care about. It is more important that they learn how to appreciate and accept the less skilled and the less athletic as part of their group then learn how to win at any cost. Competition is healthy and children need to learn how to accept natural consequences and adverse situations, but their are other values to learn through team sports as well. These values tend to get short shrift in competitive youth sports.

On a related note, the parents I see at youth sporting events screaming at their single-digit aged kids like the fate of the world hung on their athletic performance that day make me sick. I am convinced that this is why Lawrence tried to ban concealed carry at youth sporting fields - not because the crazy parents might be carrying but to protect them from the vast majority of parents who find their behavior disgusting.

allateup 10 years ago

Yeti, one comes to mind real quick.....John Riggins from Centralia

TheHeartlessBureaucrat 10 years ago

I appreciate Mr. Cole's thoughts. I am a parent and I would love to protect my kids from painful experiences. But I assure you, there is a silver lining.

I was never picked for any teams in school except for BAND. I was terribly unpopular and a really late bloomer socially. I'm still a misfit, I'm proud to say.

This weekend I was in a competition and my team lost.

Having had childhood experience with needing to be dignified in the face of losing, my team didn't have a meltdown when the results came in. We accepted our loss and went home. Many folks can't do that. My kids got to see me accept defeat as well.

When there's no joy in attempting something, even if you fail, then you've lost the point. I enjoy practicing and being on my little team.

So...I hope your kids have plenty of success and understand that they're accepted by their family and their community even if they're not the star of the team.



bmwjhawk 10 years ago

Perhaps the writer should encourage the district to hire more coaches.

Baille 10 years ago

"The kid needs to grow some sack?"

If ever there was a good argument for eugenics, this comment alone would sum it up nicely.

staff04 10 years ago

I'm torn on this one--my initial reaction is that if I am a taxpaying parent with a child in public school, then my child should get to participate in any taxpayer supported extra-curricular programs he/she wishes to.

As a former participant in many of those activities, I can also agree that at certain points it may be appropriate to limit participation for a number of reasons.

Either way, it is an interesting discussion, and I'm surprised that none of you toughguys that are normally whining about your property taxes has considered this beyond "kids have to learn how to lose."

FatTony 10 years ago

Why is this todays news? Is it not a letter to the editor? Put Letters to the Editor where they belong, not the 2nd story under news. The new Journal World website just plain sucks.

staff04 10 years ago

FatTony, I assume you must have the tab for "Most Discussed" highlighted and not the "Lastest News" tab. Computer geeks call this problem you are experiencing PIBKAC.

packrat 10 years ago

I've been seriously considering whether or not any public school money should be spent on any extra-curricular activity in which anyone who wants to participate can. That means no sports.

cath 10 years ago

The school my children attend went from 2A to 3A last year and they have to try out to be cheerleaders. Last year with one in 7th and one in 8th they both tried out. the 7th grader made it. The 8th grader didn't. Thats life. Plus, the older one was happy for her sister, in the same way the younger is happy the older excels at basketball. Kids should be taught how to handle not making the team and made to see it is not the end of the world. Yes, my daughter was upset, but she got over it just fine and learned a lesson in humility.

staff04 10 years ago

That's one way to look at it as well, packrat, and reasonable from some perspectives.

I believe the extra-curriculars have been well documented to reduce juvenile crime, boost morale, and produce well-rounded individuals with a greater chance for success as adults.

Very easy to argue your angle as well, that extra-curricular activities are not part of the required government guaranteed free public education.

kansas778 10 years ago

Regardless of whether we want to include everyone or not, sometimes it's just not feasible at a larger school. The 1A and 2A schools that include everyone, don't have the problem of 50 people trying to make one basketball team, where you can only play 5 at a time, and there's only one or two coaches. I know, though, that there are sports teams like football, wrestling, and track and field, and many clubs and groups, that do include everyone that wants to join. I didn't make the basketball team, but I went to the state championships in track and field. That's life, you can't be good at everything, you just have to keep trying till you find what you are good at.

james bush 10 years ago

Let the "village" raise the children!!!!!!!!!

lubyloo 10 years ago

Did I take a wrong turn and end up in Mister Rogers' Neighborhood? Everyone is good at something and part of growing up is learning what you are or are not good at -- and learning how to cope with rejection.

Jillster 10 years ago

Not sure when this happened in our society, but we have begun to create a culture that celebrates mediocrity. We don't want to make anyone feel bad, and we can't stand to see anyone suffer, so we tell them that the best they can do is okay, even if it falls short of the mark. And one can give more than their best. But if we lower the standards so that everyone can participate, does the child really have any motivation to work harder to do better? If kids don't have to compete to get in to activities before middle school/junior high, as Don Cole suggests, will they have learned by that age how to work hard to reach a goal instead of skating by with a minimal effort?

A child who hasn't been selected to be on the team, or in the chorus, or in the play, etc. is, in effect, being told that they weren't talented enough, and that others are better at this activity than they were. That doesn't mean that they have to take away the message that they are in some way a bad or deficient person as a whole. And yes, it's difficult for a parent or grandparent to guide the child through a disappointment like this and have them take away any kind of positive message. But ya know...that's a parent or grandparent's job, and it isn't always easy. And character is something that can't wait to be built until the child is 12 or 13. If by that age they can't bear to be told "no," there's a problem.

Baille 10 years ago

Spoken like a true never-parent.

There are plenty of opportunities to teach children about dealing with not being the best, losing, and the ever-so-painful "no" and "not right now" in an inclusive approach to teams. Even though everyone plays on rec leagues, it is clear to all involved that not all are equally good. Teams win and teams lose. Some kids get it. Some kids don't. There are lot s of learning opportunities both in how to handle disappointment and how to hadle success gracefully. Both are found aplenty bewteen the ages of 1 and 14 without having to teach it through outright rejection or an over-emphasis on winning..

The same is true in 2A schools where everyone (but apparently the cheerleaders) get to participate in all activities.

That said, we have a lot of kids in Lawrence - at least until the city "leaders" succeed in killing the town through cancerous growth - and there are not enough slots for those who wish to play. Don's heart is in the place and as a parent I agree with much if what he said - but the fact is we don't know what inspired this letter. And all opinions as to Don's fitness or intelligence or even his status as a grandfather is just a bunch of BS.

Jillster 10 years ago

Baille wrote: "Spoken like a true never-parent."

But I was a child for a number of years, and was frequently on the outside looking in. My parents were good at teaching me how to handle both victories and disappointments with grace. Also to know when to try harder, or maybe to try my hand at something new. There is, after all, always a next semester, next year, maybe even some new activity I hadn't tried before. I was never a cheerleader, or in the pep band, but I had a great time in school plays.

erod0723 10 years ago

I went to a High School with a no cut policy in regards to sports. I found this to be a great thing for myself and other students. Having a no cut policy allows all students to participate in sports, even if they don't actually get in the game. Having a no cut policy increases participation in sports and allows kids to get some good ole fashioned exercise, which I doubt anyone would doubt has great merits.

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