I CAN remember going to my first P & C Association committee meeting soon after my daughter started her school life at Albury Public School.
I was pretty fired up to make as big a contribution as I could for the benefit of the school, which would then benefit my eldest child and, later, her brother.
But that was to be the first and last meeting I ever went to.
We were only 10 minutes into the meeting when the subject of uniforms came up and the need for students to comply with school requirements.
Beauty, I thought, this is what I want to hear about.
But then a mother interrupted and reminded the chair that at an earlier meeting the group had agreed that there had to be a mix of enforcing uniform requirements and “respecting a child’s individuality”.
To make it worse, there seemed to be murmurs of approval of her statement around the room.
Frankly, I didn’t give a damn about the school respecting my child’s “individuality”, especially at the sacrifice of learning about being part of a community and the responsibility she had to it to gain the benefits it would give her.
I hate to sound like a reactive old dinosaur but to me it sounded like an excellent example where people’s “rights” take primacy over their duty to the society that nourishes them.
It is the same sort of thinking that seems to be behind the AFL’s decision to ban scores, best and fairest awards and the like in Auskick for under-10s.
In other words, let’s lower the bar so little Johnny or Sarah don’t feel intimidated about the fact that, at this stage of their development and age, they are not as talented as other kids or the team they play in is not as good as others.
The AFL apparently thinks this will encourage participation.
It’s a tough world out there, one of tooth and claw, with a thin veneer of civilisation underlying it.
No one is going to protect these kids from the world when they leave school and give them a career just because they demand one; no one owes them a living.
And there is no better way, in my opinion, to teach a kid responsibility and duty and mateship than playing a team sport.
It’s true, winning isn’t everything.
But giving your best with an aim to win is.
As famed Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi said: “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their field of endeavour”.
Sure, sport is not the only way kids can learn to contribute and seek excellence, but I believe it is the best way — so don’t water down its key strong points so children can feel all warm and fuzzy about themselves.
People like to talk about fairness in life like it is some sort of god-given right.
Well, I reckon someone who might claim life is unfair is a two-year-old child living in a drought-stricken, impoverished nation, whose grandparents, uncles and aunts, adults and siblings have died of thirst and starvation.
That child is then left to the same horrible fate, alone and without anybody there to embrace it in death.
That is unfair and children not being as good at a particular sport as others and having their egos bruised is not in the same postcode.
In real estate it might be location, location, location, but in life it is participation, participation, participation.
And in life participation will not happen because you want to participate but aren’t prepared to pay the entry fee.
So don’t teach your kids to be a loser later in life by encouraging them to take the path of least resistance earlier in it.
Teach them it’s not how many times you get knocked down that counts ... it’s how many times you get up.