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15 July 2011 - Let’s Not Do Away with Competition

This is a stretch of your imagination but stick with me for a moment if you would, please.
Can you imagine a Super Bowl without a champion, no winner, no loser; or how about basketball’s Final Four coming to a close without a winner, without a loser; or the World Series going seven games and ending without a winner and without a loser.

Doesn’t make any sense, does it? Yet, from what I’m hearing from parents in some counties across the country, that could very well be the case at their County Fair this year…no winners, no losers. Parents have e-mailed me to tell me that Fair officials in their county have decided they will not name a grand champion in the livestock ring which means no purple grand champion ribbon will be presented to the 4-H or FFA champion, nor will they present a blue ribbon for first place in any other project work in
4-H or FFA.

No, they are not going to name champions because that means there are losers and that could be damaging to the psyche of young people; it could have a negative impact on them for a lifetime. So the simple solution is to not name a champion?? This thinking is carrying beyond the 4-H and FFA judging rings; it’s happening in high schools where they are now graduating Senior classes without naming a Valedictorian, so that students who don’t make the top grade aren’t affected negatively for life! I just don’t understand this kind of mentality; life IS competition and as youngsters we should begin realizing that early! We go through life competing on the athletic field, in the show ring, in the classroom and of course, in the work arena for jobs and promotions. If you don’t know where you stand when the competition ends, then you really haven’t learned very much.

I have a very personal reason for feeling this way and I know first-hand that losing can be a great learning experience. When I was a senior in high school in Wisconsin, I was one of the five state finalists in the Wisconsin FFA State Speaking Contest. I was really good and I knew I could win! When the judging ended and the winner was announced, it wasn’t me; I came in fourth out of five! Yes, I hated losing but I learned a great deal from that loss, and worked very hard to be better. The results of that “losing” event led me to a career I have enjoyed for 60 years.

If leaders at your county fair are talking about not naming champions, will you please tell them this makes no sense at all. Honor champions with purple ribbons and those who don’t make it this year, can learn and come back and maybe have the champion next year…that is, if your fair is still naming champions!

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.