The Trophy Generation
I know I have blamed the ruination of our economy on everything from George W. Bush to the rising cost of cashews, but today I realized what truly, I mean really and truly, caused our recession/depression: The “everybody gets a trophy” policy that was brought in to play by some annoying parent with a child who was uncoordinated, a sore loser, stupid or all of the above.
When I was a kid you got a trophy if your team won the big game at the end of the season. Only one team got the trophy, and even of you were the team that played the winner, which of course made you second-best, you got squat because YOU DIDN’T WIN. It made us want to win, but it also taught us how to lose. Because guess what, all you undeserving trophy holders of the last two and a half decades – sometimes you lose and that’s all there is to that.
So now we have a young workforce full of people who got a trophy for showing up for more than half of the soccer practices. They got trophies for managing to not break a bone, they got trophies for wearing matching socks, they got trophies for coming in tenth out of ten. And now they want bonuses for not calling in sick every week and actually doing their jobs.
My sister told me the story of two 19-year-old workers who told her, their boss, that they felt “unappreciated.” Their job was to either hand out towels at a hotel’s poolside towel shed, or bring chairs to the beach for guests. And they felt unappreciated because she didn’t say “Nice job! Here’s a trophy!” after every time they actually did their job quickly and efficiently. She told them that the paycheck they got every week was appreciation enough, and that they should appreciate the fact that she didn’t fire them for performing at a consistent 80%. They quit and she replaced them with one 45 year old school teacher on summer break who did both of their jobs far more efficiently, and never once asked for appreciation or a trophy.
And today we have a Wall Street that is populated with the trophy generation, stock-brokers who seem to believe that even if they fail, even if they lose fully and completely, there is a trophy on the table at the end of the field already engraved with their name, and they get it no matter what. You made a huge error in judgment and told clients to buy Merrill Lynch? That’s okay; you still get a bonus and a trophy. You work for AIG? Here, we have your trophy AND a huge bonus! Whoops! You lost your company millions of dollars? That's okay, you're still a WINNER in our eyes! Have a cookie and a big trophy because you have a big heart! And we wonder why we are in this economic mess.
The Trophy Generation had better wise up soon -- even though their inability to comprehend loss if not their fault -- because if they don’t we are all gonna be in some sorry shape, just you wait and see. So to all you parents who celebrated your inept child’s trophy for 15th place, to you mothers and fathers who told your children that a D average was worth a trip to McDonald’s, to you coaches that allowed the kids with no athletic skills whatsoever to play in the game even though it was obvious that their two left feet were going to cost the team a win, I say shame on you. I may be looking at a dismal old age because you were too weak to tell your kids they needed improvement. But you will suffer the same fate as me, I suppose. So when we retire, I’ll see you in the cat food aisle as we each shop for lunch. I hear 9-Lives has the tastiest shredded beef in savory sauce.
Copyright (c) Inkwell Television 2009