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How not to teach life's most important lessons

HE was good at football and baseball, but his real passion was basketball. Imagine his

disappointment when he failed to make the varsity basketball team in his first year at Emsley A. Laney High School in Wilmington, N.C.

Michael Jordan didn't quit. He played junior varsity ball with a vengeance. He did so well that not only did he make the varsity team the next year, but the year after that he earned a spot on McDonald's national all-star team.

He went on to become the greatest basketball payer of all time. He also became a successful businessman.

His high school coach knew what he was doing. He motivated Jordan to work harder. The coach prepared Jordan for life by teaching him teamwork, sportsmanship and above all, failure.

A policy change proposed by Kanawha County Board of Education member Becky Jordon would rob students of that opportunity.

She would have the county mandate that every kid on every team in middle school is entitled to play in every game regardless of skill or work ethic. Such an entitlement would undercut the purpose of competitive sports.

She means well.

"I can promise that, if a kid sits on that bench all through middle school, they will not attempt to be engaged in high school," Jordon told Mackenzie Mays of the Gazette.

"We know the kids that are most involved are the most successful. . . . It's an awkward age. There isn't a person that can say middle school was a great time. If we can make a minimal step to make kids feel better about themselves, we should."

No, we should not. School is not about making kids feel good about themselves. Education is about preparing children to be adults. Life is not always fair but hard work is a good way to level the playing field.

Entitlement is not.

"Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently," Henry Ford said.

He spoke from experience. His first automobile company failed. He was pushed out of his second. His third try became Ford Motor Company.

Sitting on the bench while watching better and harder working players compete may be the best lesson some kids ever learn in school.


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