Home Blog The Continued Wussification of American Children

The Continued Wussification of American Children

Written on August 26, 2008 at 8:41 pm, by Eric Cressey

On the radio this morning, they were talking all about this 9-year-old in Connecticut who was banned from his little league for being too good. Yes, folks, you read that correctly; we’re discouraging achievement and instead rewarding and encouraging mediocrity.

To illustrate my point…

When I was in elementary school, I played the trumpet. I use the word “play” very loosely because I was absolutely terrible – the last trumpet in the band, in fact. I was so bad that I used to fake playing a good 75% of the time. When concert time came around, I’d pretend to huff and puff and blow into that sucker – and while I looked like I was making sweet music, the truth was that my cheeks were just getting redder and redder – and I wasn’t making a sound. This great “front” was even better because I was pudgy, and let’s be honest: there really isn’t anything funnier than a pudgy kid with red cheeks pretending to play the trumpet.

You know what, though? Nobody ever told the first trumpet guy to skip the concert. He deserved his success. For all I know, he might still be playing the trumpet today. Hell, I didn’t even practice; I was too busy focusing on what I enjoyed more (which coincided with what I was good at: sports).

What if this 9-year-old really does have what it takes to do something special in the world of baseball? Are we really going to risk his development – both physically and psychologically – so that we can make future lawyers, astronauts, and proctologists feel good about themselves? If that’s the case, we better start telling the smart kids in school to stop studying.

The truth is that just as success is great for teaching us what we enjoy and what our place in this world is, humility teaches us countless valuable lessons. Take it from the fat trumpet faker who wore sweatpants to school straight up through sixth grade. I turned out okay.

10 Responses to “The Continued Wussification of American Children”

  1. Dan Says:

    So thats why your cheeks are red…

  2. Christopher Davis Says:


  3. Sent Says:

    I read that when the kid came up to pitch once the coach got his entire team up and left. Yeah that’s a good message to send kids.

  4. Kevin Larrabee Says:

    they talked about this a lot on WEEI today, which made traffic a little more tolerable. Without standout athletes what would drive kids and humans in general to strive to fulfill their true potential?

  5. Steph Says:

    As someone who works with and lives with a 9 year this enrages me. I had a star athlete last year and his mom was so grateful that he was in my class. Why? Because I stressed the importance of being “body smart.” He had never seen athleticism as an intelligence. By sharing my training, studying athletes and doing lessons on nutrition, he felt valued. And smart. And I want to thank Larrabee for de-wussifying my 9 year old yesterday for taking him dumpster diving among other things. The cozy atmosphere of blasting “swear word” music and members of the staff walking around with a bat is bringing out the best in him. I’m dead serious.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    The SOLUTION is to move the kids UP to an older aged league, not ban them. That’s what normal sane organizations do. I was moved up in both music and academics, and came close to being moved down in athletics…but never once did adults shun my interest because I didn’t fit neatly into the proper bell curve for my age group. That’s why age-based leagues exist!

  7. Kaiser Says:

    Yup that’s wussification at it’s finest! That’s just the way society is – “better tone it down sonny or people won’t like you and you won’t fit in ….”

    F that – if you’ve got a gift or talent, screw fitting in – milk that baby hard –

  8. Gregg Says:

    Contrary to your trumpet story I still think your cheeks are red because of front squats. Watch his face during it, the blood vessels burst in his face burst and he gets that rosy glow.

  9. Taavi Says:

    I agree that he should maybe moved a league up, and see how he can handle it there. This is also a bit dangerous – he won’t have his old team buddies anymore and if he doesn’t cut it, it might be psychologically damaging for quite some time. But if he does cut it, it will give him a great boost in terms of playing ability – he will have the motivation to improve his game.

    To be honest, though, it is understandable why league officials and other children don’t like him playing. The children’s league IS NOT and SHOULD NOT BE about competition. We don’t live in Sparta, we don’t have to fight for death since childhood. The children’s league is about starting to like sports and getting the motivation to do physical exercise for the rest of their lives. If they stop playing because they become frustrated to be worse than their opponent, or because they are scared to get hit by that ball or whatever, has anyone really won anything in this situation? They are young children, they are delicate, and that’s ok. They have plenty of time to mature and become tougher. The most important thing now is to nurture this young talent while letting everyone else feel good about sports and develop a life-long positive interest in physical exercise.

  10. James B. Says:

    Gotta disagree with the comment “letting everyone else feel good about sports.” Maybe I’m oversimplifying your statement a bit, but realistically, it’s okay for kids to learn that they aren’t cut out for certain things. Not everyone has to feel good about whatever it is they are doing. Eric was not good at trumpet, for example. There’s a point where it’s appropriate to “cut bait”–in sports, in band, even in work, and it’s good to teach kids how to accept that in a positive way as well.

    But I don’t think anybody said this was a league filled with Poindexters and then this one marvelous pitcher, though. He was way better than the other kids. There are stars in everything we do, and it’s good to learn how to get beaten, and to try to figure out how to beat somebody better than you. The coach who sat his team down–that’s the guy who should be crucified. He taught his team how to quit.

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