By Dave Ruthenberg, Sports Editor
Enid News and Eagle
Everyone likes a winner, right? Winning should be celebrated. Well, apparently winning isn’t always a good thing in the minds of some people, or at least too much winning.
Imagine if somebody asked Alabama to “step aside” this college football season to let somebody else win, because, well, they were just too good and the Crimson Tide’s winning was discouraging others.
While Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Big 12 faithful wouldn’t mind seeing ‘Bama kicked to the curb, it would seem awfully hollow if the only way a school outside of Tuscaloosa claimed a title was as a result of the defending champ being barred from competing because they were too good.
Sound ridiculous? Absolutely. But, something along those lines was recently being advocated, albeit not on the playing field. No, in this case the big, bad bully was a 9-year-old bookworm.
Hudson Falls, N.Y., fifth-grader Tyler Weaver owns a championship winning streak that would be the envy of any sports program, team or athlete. Weaver is a voracious reader, so much so that he just claimed his sixth straight “Dig Into Reading” contest sponsored by the Hudson Falls Public Library, which holds the annual competition to encourage kids to read during their summer vacation.
Weaver takes his reading seriously. During the most recent six-week period covered by the annual contest, the 9-year-old, who calls himself the “king of the reading club,” read 63 books, an average of more than 10 per week.
Since kindergarten, Weaver has read 373 books over the previous five contests according to his mom, as reported by the Glens Falls Post-Star newspaper.
“It feels great,” Weaver said in a post-victory celebration. Well, OK, it wasn’t a victory party, but it should have been. I don’t know if I have read 373 books over my lifetime.
To verify a student has read the books, he is required to answer a random question on the book. Weaver hasn’t missed yet. For his reward, Weaver has won an array of prizes ranging from an atlas to a T-shirt.
But, here’s the kicker. Library director Marie Grandon seriously suggested Weaver “step aside” to let others win. She accused Weaver of “hogging” the competition every year and said he should step aside because others are discouraged.
Here’s a different suggestion to the other students: Do better. Don’t like the results? Try harder, and you know what, if you can’t beat him, maybe you just aren’t good enough.
Grandon’s suggestion thankfully was rejected by other parents and she backed down.
But the suggestion is reflective of a malady that has found its way into organized sports across the country, where we discourage winning, or at least too much of it, by assuming there must be some insidious reason behind it, instead of celebrating it and encouraging others to follow a winning example.
Such notions have crept into sports. Some youth soccer leagues, including at least one in this area, actually discourage winning. If a team is too good, it is punished by being forced to move into a higher age group. Of course, youth sports have sadly been besieged by do-gooders who also believe keeping score is harmful.
In life, there are winners and losers. Who are we to have the audacity to take away the joy of winning and treat it as something to be ashamed?
Vince Lombardi wouldn’t recognize today’s America.
Ruthenberg is sports editor at the News & Eagle. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org