Sunday, September 25, 2016

Attacks on Excellence in School Sports

New Jersey Star-Ledger letter writer Bill Bahrs claims that Private school powerhouses ruin competitive HS sports. Why? Because private schools pull kids from all over a region, while public schools are restricted to kids pulled from within their own town or district. In a letter published in early February 2016, Bahrs complains:

Delbarton won its 8th consecutive Morris County Wrestling Championship this past weekend, with wrestlers from probably a dozen different communities.

How does that make the second, third or fourth place teams feel? Probably like they are competing against an all-star team composed of kids from all over the county? Is it fair to the kids that only live in the towns that are represented on the front of their singlet?

I have no idea where those Delbarton wrestlers live, but what if they had competed for their hometowns? Would the tournament have had a completely different feel and outcome?

. . .  On any given week in New Jersey, 17 of the top 20 schools in boys basketball, and 11 out of 20 in girls basketball, are private.

In hockey it’s 12 out of 20. In wrestling, it’s six out of 20. In football, it was seven out of 20. And so it goes, no matter what the sport.

. . . You may think I’m prejudiced, but if your school’s name begins with Saint, ends in Prep, or is not a town name I recognize, I’m simply not rooting for you, and there certainly are no crocodile tears when you lose.

I probably should not be too quick to judge Bahrs. He may honestly believe that private schools have an unfair advantage. On the other hand, he may harbor a sinister undercurrent of envy. I don’t know. Personally, I think if there is an element of truth to Bahrs’ argument, the blame rests with the government schools, which coercively assign children to schools based on their home address, rather than with the private schools. Private schools are not “advantaged.” Tax-funded public schools are at a government-imposed disadvantage. If all schools were privately run and administered, as they should be, you’d have an equal playing field.

Whatever Bahrs’ motivations, there is a broadening trend of hatred and resentment of earned success in this country. And it extends to school sports. Consider a January 2016 column by Dr. Michael J. Hurd, Minnesotans Ban a Basketball Team for Being “Too Good”.

Hurd writes about a girls youth basketball team, the Rogers Area Youth Basketball Association girls high school team, getting kicked from a tournament by the Northwest Suburban Basketball League (Girls basketball team gets booted from league for being too good). Quoting from the article, Hurd writes:

“This is absurd,” parent Sherri Palmgren told the station. “Do we take the (NFL’s) Patriots or Cardinals, who are going to the championship game, and kick them to the curb because they’re too good?
Give it time!
The league ejected RAYBA just ahead of a showcase tournament this weekend, according to Fox 9.

“Are we supposed to play worse just to make them happy?” team member Tessa McCarthy told the station.
Yes. That’s exactly what you’re supposed to do. According to whom? Not just according to the idiots who make these policies and decisions. According to the ideology of self-sacrifice. The idiots who make these policies are everywhere. That’s why we keep seeing these kinds of stories over, and over, and over again. Without the notion of selfless humility as the ideal—which most of us have accepted—these policies would never see the light of day. Instead, they’re now normal.

“You are your brother’s keeper.” “Don’t be selfish.” “There is no ‘I’ in team.” “Level the playing field.” “The meek shall inherit the earth.” We’ve all heard these ideas and slogans a thousand times. They have a way of penetrating, and sticking, in our subconscious minds. That’s why, when it comes to decisions like this, most people are afraid to speak out.

It comes down to a choice, writes Hurd, between “This team is kicking ass. It’s doing so well that it makes the losing teams uncomfortable and embarrassed. The winning team should take a break. Humility rules” and the opposing idea: “Forget it! They won, fair and square, and they deserve to enjoy their success.”

“Sooner or later,” Hurd observes, “when confronted with two contradictory premises, you have to decide.”

Perhaps, as I said, Bahrs’ complaint against private schools is motivated by a sense of fairness, however misplaced. Or maybe, like Hurd’s Minnesota example, Bahrs is just resentful for Delbarton being good, because of the way it makes “the second, third or fourth place teams”—and himself—“feel.” Bahrs’ letter certainly could be another example of what Hurd is talking about—the destructive corruption wrought by altruism, which fosters hatred of the good for being the good.

Related Reading:

Society’s ‘Lottery Winners’ and ‘Give Back’ vs. Win-Win

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