Boys suffer in a culture without challenges
Becoming a man in our society is becoming increasingly difficult because of a lack of healthy competition.
December 27, 2009
YARMOUTH — Boys need challenging and intense competition to become men.
Two 10-year-old boys show up for their first soccer tryouts. Both feel nervous but excited. The parent of one says, "give it your best shot and have fun." The other parent says, "you don't have to do this if you don't want to. It can feel scary."
Which of these statements is best for the boys?
An increasing number of boys are doing poorly in school and failing to mature in a positive way. More men are losing self-confidence and their passion for competing and achieving.
While the top-performing 10 percent to 20 percent of boys and men are doing just fine, the growing number of underachieving males forces schools, businesses, the military and others to lower their standards and expectations. What happened?
Political correctness and new age wishful thinking have all contributed to the effort in our schools, families, and communities to take away intense competition from boys. Even in sports, only a small number of top athletes ever get to experience challenging competition.
Some believe that competition turns boys into bad, mean or violent people. The opposite is true. The proving ground of competition done well creates confident boys and competent men!
Tens of thousands of years of human development cannot be swept aside to fit the "anti-competition" PC agenda. It's a mushy, idealistic approach to child development and education that seems disconnected from reality. Today boys learn more about fairness and fun than how to compete successfully.
Yes, fairness and fun are important lessons in life, but can be taught very well during intense competition. Plus nearly every aspect of life involves some degree of competition with other people, communities, teams, governments, or businesses and will never go away.
All of the politically correct worries about fairness, over-the-top fears about scuffing up knees or hurting someone's feelings frustrate boys and do them a disservice by lowering standards of achieving. We're taking away the proving grounds for learning how to be strong men. Our global business competitors and terrorist enemies are licking their chops.
Growing up I had many opportunities to compete in the classroom, playing sports or music, and having adventures with my friends and family. I learned from my successes and my failures.
Once, at age 11, I was about to bat for my Little League team in the last inning with two outs. The adrenalin came rushing in, my mind focused and I felt nervous but ready. The game ended suddenly, however, because the batter before me stuck out.
I was stunned seeing my chance to be the hero lost. I wanted to smack something to release my frustration. That's how many boys and men feel today even if they don't know why.
Luckily, I had a coach who kept providing opportunities to prove myself under pressure. When boys and men don't get these competitive chances, we tend to take our disappointment, anger and shame out on others. As a result, far too many of us become bullies, abusers, gangbangers, criminals, corrupt politicians or greedy corporate clones. Others become slackers, underachievers, indecisive, increasingly numb to life and focused on video games and fantasy sports. [SNIP]