Rewarding Failure?


Yes, I am a parent too. It is difficult to see your child invest themselves into something and have that effort not lead to the success they are hoping for. Failure is only failure if we don’t get back up after we fall!




When a teenage girl in New Jersey was cut from the cheerleading squad we all got to see a young player learn a very valuable lesson. No, not the one about how failure makes you stronger, or failure teaches you how to overcome hardship, or how the willingness to give it your all and come up short will prepare you for the rest of your life.


No she learned the modern lesson of… complain loud enough and you will still get what you want!


So the kids who worked hard and made the squad fair and square were upset and had a right to be so. They felt that all their efforts to make the team were now undercut because the standards they met were more suggestions than standards.


What do you get when someone tricks the system to get you a spot on a team? I have always wondered if a player or parent who complains or sues their way onto the team feels like this is really an accomplishment. And what exactly they are learning from getting ahead this way?


In the best feeling book, “The Gift of Failure”, Jessica Leahey explains it this way:


“Kids are smarter than we give them credit for, and they know when we lower our expectations for them. When we give praise, awards or a slot on the team unearned…they no longer trust adults. Lying to kids about the quality of their work or downgrading our expectations so as to not make them feel bad only result in them no longer trusting our judgment.”


“Giving someone an easy way ends up giving them a lower sense of self worth, because they know they didn’t earn their spot and have to face those who did everyday. It’s humiliation – not Charity.”


Wow! science telling us something we all already knew. Now if we can only remember it when we are talking about OUR kids!


About the Author: Tory Acheson brings a wealth of knowledge to the Fastpitch Prep staff. He has coached at all levels of the game, including the last 25 years at the college level at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, Tennessee Tech and Kennesaw State. He began his coaching career at the high school level spending 9 years Whitnall High School in Greenfield, Wis. and is now working as a professional softball instructor.