Everything I learned in life I learned in dodgeball

by / Monday, 23 August 2010 / Published in Leadership
dodgeball, life's great teaching tool.

When I was a kid, I figured out real quick that life had bumps in the road. This poignant pearl of wisdom usually revealed itself on my knees, elbows and butt. But I was allowed to fail, and then learn from that failure. Life was always so kind as to inform me when I had failed, so I would not be motivated to repeat the steps leading up to it.

I informed the world of my wishes, even my demands, and it responded to said request with a sucker punch. Four decades later, I have learned how to recognize and dodge most of the blows, and more importantly how to take a few punches by bearing down, gritting my teeth, and staring the offender in the eye with my resolve to come back with a resounding smack upside his head.

…the slogan of this generation has become, “when the going gets tough, blame someone and wait for assistance

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. This little idiom has been systematically erased form our social playbook. Now, the slogan of this generation has become, “when the going gets tough, blame someone and wait for assistance.”

The last pillar of social preparedness training for our youth was in the school gymnasium. The painful truth of Darwin’s survival of the fittest, was resolved via a beautifully politically incorrect game called dodgeball. The word still makes me grin with a sinister laugh, albeit today, it is reduced to an inner monologue.

Nothing says grow a pair, like a big wallop to the side of the face with an oversized red rubber ball thrown violently at 15mph by a bigger opponent. The sweet sound of rubber reverb, that can only be made by a dodgeball on a face still makes me smile.

Our children have now been officially stripped of this valuable educational tool. Dodgeball is not fair. It can create injury. Of course it can! It’s supposed to create injury. A nice big bruise if  executued skillfully. A crying heap would be even more satisfying. Now before you get offended. I have been that crying heap before. Once. That moment was quickly followed by learning how to throw better, faster, and much harder. More importantly, I learned how keep my fourth grade head out of the line of oncoming missiles.

Today, kids have to play games like “slide the bean bag” across the gym floor. Even kickball is being removed because the best part of the game is deemed too mean. You know, the part we all love where we get to throw the big dodgeball at the runner to tag them out? Preferably in the head so we can hear that sweet sound I mentioned before and then laugh uncontrollably as they fall to ground in an awkward unbalanced crumble.

The one advantage our congressman have over the young voters, is their willingness to throw the dodgeball at their constituents’ faces, without allowing reciprocation by the constituents. Hardly a fair game.

Our youth don’t know the rules of this strange game. Fighting back? They are being taught to redefine the rules to the game. More dangerously, they are also being taught that to lose is not just. Failure is not right. A dodgeball to the face is not the way life is supposed to be. We should all be able to sit on the gym floor of life and wait for our turn to roll the ball that will be provided to us in our turn.

Why do we give awards for losing?

“Let’s give a round of applause for Little Johnny, who can’t kick the ball, run, or avoid immobile objects on the field. I wish I had a hundred little Johnnys” says his weak kneed teacher. That is ridiculous.

The point of a trophy is to point out who lost. The kid with the big “L” on his forehead needs to know he failed so he has a reason to try harder and succeed next time he participates.

The point of a trophy is to point out who lost. The kid with the big “L” on his forehead needs to know he failed so he has a reason to try harder and succeed next time he participates. Winners are rewarded for their superior creativity, ability, skill, endurance, strength and speed. If everybody wins, nobody does. If we all win, we actually have all lost. As a believer in Intelligent Design, I actually endorse Darwin’s theory of the stronger beating the weaker in a fair fight. This is the law of size and scale. A rock and a feather will never have the same mass, even if  we use a magic marker to rewrite what the scale reads.

The problem is we set up the tournaments to be unbalanced to begin with and so we have to fabricate the way the win is decided. When we allow one kid who weighs 400lbs. to run a foot race against an athletic opponent, we set them both up for discouragement. If the heavier kid knows he will receive the same trophy no matter what, it results in his apathetic level of effort. The skinny kid knows he will not be allowed to have the victory because it will appear to be unfair. So they both get a ribbon. This will discourage both from participating at anything more than the minimum required to get a grade.

If they can’t do the job, then fire them, and their nipple rings

This is happening in the workplace too. Losers have taken over the cubicle. The five year career veteran is over looked for the raise because of the new hire with the ear gage and questionable gender. Employers give in to unwritten demands out of fear of creating unfair acknowledgment of their lifestyle. Who the heck cares if they are offended? Can they do the job better? If so pay them for it. If not, stop placating their need to be the center of social attention. If they can’t do the job, then fire them, and their nipple rings.

When we experience hunger, we have to mobilize our muscles to create momentum towards the solution, usually known as the refrigerator. When we have a thirst, we find a drink. When we are cold, we look for warmth. These basic needs have been the basic motivations of our human ancestors. These basic needs created capitalism. I don’t have a cow and I desire some milk, but I do have a sheep. You have a cow and need some clothes. We agree to trade our objects of value with each other.

Today, the one who hasn’t a cow or sheep keep demanding milk and clothes in exchange for not beating the crap out of you socially, emotionally, politically or even physically. They smoke and over eat and refuse to educate themselves with new knowledge. Then they demand health care repair to compensate for their bad judgement.

Sometimes I think rats are better equipped to experience this earth. They are survivalists. Even they know to get out of the sewer if there is no more available opportunities. They support each other as a colony only far enough to guarantee their own resources. If another rat threatens that supply thorough laziness or theft, the society handles that problem succinctly. The colony simply converts the offender into an after-the-fact food resource. This kind of equalization allows for very few offenders.