Current Trends by Natasha Sapp

It’s been called repeatedly the wussification of America the handing out of trophies for meaningless accolades, weighing down kids with trophies for everything, making them think they should be rewarded for what many consider just doing what you are supposed to, alleging it gives them an inflated sense of their abilities and stifles the drive to try harder, do better, push themselves. This being exemplified by Pittsburg Steelers linebacker James Harrison who, slightly over a month ago, announced on Instagram the 2 participation trophies he discovered his sons received, presumably for being part of a team, would be returned until they earned a real trophy with the accompanying quote: “While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them till the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy. I’m sorry I’m not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned and I’m not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best … cause sometimes your best is not enough, and that should drive you to want to do better … not cry and whine until somebody gives you something to shut you up and keep you happy.” Social media lighting up on both sides of the argument defending Harrison on the concept we are a nation of wusses where we used to be winners, others fed up with the “entitlement culture” embodied by millennials and so called gen Y kids brought up today who want everything handed to them, don’t know how to work for it, view big, what used to be achievements, like high school and college graduation as rights rather than privileges. Opposition to this recurring theme of “tough love” reminding us participation trophies were around when they were children, and the they in this case is nearly 40 or over, and it didn’t warp their sense of accomplishment, understanding of why they got the trophy, promoting a misconception they won something they did not when the trophy says participation. Every kid knowing the score, even when it’s not being kept, as to who was first, who has the better skills at a given activity, who sucks and who doesn’t; participation trophies losing meaning as kids grow older yet valuable to younger children who participate in a team, activity, club, not just a sport. Rendering Mr. Harrison’s Instagram post exactly what many pegged it as, a political statement he didn’t need to make to a country with much bigger problems, same opposers bluntly stating there’s a bigger parenting problem in your household if people have to keep giving your kids things to shut them up and keep them happy, realities rarely in evidence. Time he would have better spent interacting with his kids, nurturing their talents, whether they be in sports or somewhere else, than lecturing a nation on finding a way to highlight something good in everyone; a statement he could have made at home, out of the prying eyes of the media his profession puts both him and his children smack dab in the middle of, whether the latter want it or not, rather than shaming his boys, it’s worth pointing out are 6 and 8, prime years where participation trophies do have a positive impact, for being excited about getting a trophy proving they were part of something, shaming his boys for the whole world to see.  Furthermore, recognizing also, independent hard work, and no one doubts the hard work you put in, you are exceedingly fortunate to have come anywhere close to where you are, to be on a team, to play a sport as your profession regardless of if you ever got a Super Bowl or championship ring, which you have. Or recognizing you are a famous football player playing for a nationally known, winning team, have experienced the thrill of success in winning championships, being at the pinnacle of your career and trashing others, particularly children, who happen to be your own, because they did not reach your level of accomplishment before being recognized for something indicates you lack the class, dignity, grace and gratitude you claim you are trying to instill in them. One of the many reasons multitudes are calling out James Harrison’s attitude as wrong and a mindset they don’t plan to adopt for their kids, themselves and uses their voice on social media to suggest society shouldn’t either and why the latter part of the article names him an epic parenting fail. Because, hopefully on the way out is the idea the only thing in life worth doing is winning, is being in first place, is being at the top of your career ladder, the height of your profession, competition the only thing that matters.

Never failing to escape the notice of commenters either, the number of players who achieved no game time during the playoff, championship game, the teams super bowl win, in short bench warmers, who also get rings; putting their 2 cents in maybe he should advocate players giving those back before going after elementary school kids’ participation trophy in, also worth noting, a youth sports, parks and rec type team, league. More pointing to the t-shirts given at completion of the local 5k run supporting a charity, bike race for cause X, surfing competition, paddle boarding event marking starts/ends of summer, bringing in the bulk of local business dollars, no shortage of tourism dollars and should people be challenged to give those back too; usually given out as a thank you for their gasp, participation, allowing them to raise money for cancer research, infant health, combatting heart disease, autism studies,  gain city revenue toward, roads, bridges, parks, police officers, fire trucks, EMS equipment what have you. Precisely because these people are not athletes, are not necessarily in top physical condition, probably never done anything like it before in their lives, may never again. In that context finishing for them is a big deal, yet somehow their personal accomplishment means less, shouldn’t be valued, with a simple t-shirt, because they didn’t cross the finish line first when that wasn’t the goal, the purpose to begin with; when the goal was to raise money, support the local economy or just have fun?  Another woman shared her story on gaining self-confidence, a friend commented she had an abundance of, telling it from the perspective of a child on the receiving end of this kind of tough talking opening up about the time she came home from basketball camp, where she goofed off, didn’t really apply herself, with a trophy for coolest clothes and her mother ripped it off the TV throwing it away telling her; they gave it to her so she wouldn’t feel bad, not because she deserved it and she was supposed to be smart enough to know the difference. Sounds good right kid goes to sports camp, goofs off, comes home with trophy, utterly wrong message; maybe, maybe not, worth asking, what was her goal in going to basketball camp, was it to have something less boring to do over the summer, was it because all of her friends were going, was it to check out basketball and see how she liked it, she discovered she didn’t but completed camp anyway, was it either basketball camp or the old, crazy cat lady next door? As a parent were any of your goals for her going to aforementioned basketball camp summed up in the following, a push to get her away from the TV, the video games, computer, smartphone, an effort for her to get physical activity, not become obese sans any real interest in sports, a place to stash her for all or a portion of summer vacation while you work at little or no cost to yourself; if they were, then it is absurd for her to think her child should come home with a winning trophy or nothing at all. Continuing, how do you know they gave her the trophy, in what sounds an awful lot like a peer generated trophy category, not an adult one, singularly so she would not feel bad and not because, someone noticed and liked her outfits, advice she possibly gave her fellow camp members on clothes, her peers there really did think she had the coolest stuff, fashion sense— you don’t. This story, this parent’s response is equally without any questions on the adult’s part about why she is excited about a trophy regarding her clothes when she was supposed to be learning the fundamentals of basketball; answers that would have provided insight into what the child was thinking and how to proceed according to their perception. And while the author of that story, the person who experienced the incident seems to have learned the appropriate, desired “lesson,” people like Harrison want them to grasp, think everyone should understand, perhaps the best revenge is where you go in life; she went on into acting, fashion, news anchoring, something in front of the camera where having the coolest clothes, discerning how to put sharp outfits together has more meaning than it would elsewhere, nothing to do with sports— hmmm. Nor do participation trophies stop kids from trying harder, pushing themselves, achieving more, going to the next level, concepts comprising the increasing social mythology said trophies are evil; contrastingly allowing my best friend’s 5 year old son to participate in the kindergarten graduation ceremony, though he would have to repeat the grade, didn’t make him want to stay in  kindergarten forever, didn’t perpetuate a cycle of him flunking grades, it simply prevented a huge temper tantrum because he wouldn’t have understood why he was being excluded, while at the same time he got the relevant diagnosis, help, supplemental tutoring, eventual medication and is working hard at his alternative school to be returned to his regular, mainstream elementary school to complete the 4th grade. Similarly I liked getting an attendance award, liked someone noticed my effort to be in school beside classmates who didn’t so I simply tried to duplicate it, I liked seeing A’s next to my name, being on the dean’s list so I endeavored to repeat what got me there; sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t but because it didn’t happen all the time, isn’t a line I can put on a résumé as happening every semester doesn’t make it invaluable. My personal experiences with trophies and ribbons in a local therapeutic riding program for people with a myriad of disabilities didn’t suddenly make me think I had a career in equestrian sports competitions, showing horses in a variety of said environments; they did have classes for that, kids who were at that level. But I never wanted that, I was happy to participate, happy to have something to show I was a part of that, ecstatic my class got to perform at the county fair one year; trophies kept years later because they evoke fond memories of fun had, things done, friends made, positive experiences, the main reasons why they are remembered, if they aren’t thrown into a box and later forgotten about. Piggybacking the perspective of a mother on the other end of the spectrum, one with a disabled child who the only trophy he gets is a participation trophy; why, due to his developmental delay he will never be the fastest, never score the most goals, never achieve the winning catch, kick or basket, but on trophy day the kid that shows up every practice, every game, hardly or never gets to play yet cheers his team the loudest, likely sans any complaint either, always eager to help the team any way he can, probably fetching balls and towels, cleaning equipment gets recognized as a member of that team. Parent asking what’s wrong with that; what’s wrong indeed?  We really are ok with telling elementary level school children sometimes your best is not enough, communicate trying your best is worthless in the context of a participation trophy, setting the world up for bigger problems when effort leaves too? Demonstrating “astonishingly” parents, adults are the ones with the warped sense of what a participation trophy means not the kids.

Adding to the further flimsiness of Harrison’s argument is when it exposes the true message your kids are getting when you pull stunts like the one he did, what sports experts say is the consequence of placing winning above everything else, not to mention the fate of the people who do win, who reach the purported heights he speaks of, what people who do win end up doing with that success. Messages like mom/dad don’t care about the things I do, the thing that interests me, things that are important to me only if I win, and if it isn’t the kind of thing that you compete in, well it’s meaningless; they only love me when I win. As much as the girl in the previous paragraph seems to have gotten out of her mother’s tirade and imposing of “standards,” it could have easily gone the other way pushing her to ignore something she really liked because of her mother’s reaction not highlight something that better suited her, oh. How many kids today, still in the 21st century, where we think we are beyond the social conditioning personified in the iconic classic Dead Poet’s Society, parents mapping out your entire world before you’ve left the crib, because they were rich, powerful and could, pursuing careers in their socially assigned gender stratus, are doing things to satisfy their parent’s expectations not their own, are ticking off their parents goals from a list, not their own? Message received mom/dad don’t understand me, don’t try and never will; factors that ultimately cause kids to achieve less, increase chances of criminality, substance abuse, in extreme cases severe mental health problems usually making them a rampaging news headline, at minimum spending their whole lives miserable trying to get their parent’s voices, their parent’s disappointment out of their heads, believing they are worthless, incapable, incompetent because they never received any support from those who mattered most. Less because they couldn’t give it and more because they wouldn’t a distinction creating a destructive difference, people who can’t stop doing, can’t enjoy where they are because it’s never enough; take the piece on Nick Saban I wrote in 2013, interview by CBS’ 60 Minutes showing a broken little boy in the body of a 62 year old man so regimented, so driven  because he still has his father yelling in his ears subsequently yelling at his players, displaying the same impatience it’s a wonder he has a successful relationship, passing down his baggage to kids via a youth sports camp and we celibate him for it? ( I too have had bad experiences with parents, competition and, ‘not making your kids ungrateful bats’ misunderstandings; I will remember to the day that I die when I received my college acceptance letter from the smaller local college I wanted to attend after a hastily put together plan about what to do with myself after graduating high school without going mad, initially swearing off more schooling, because if it was anything like high school, all the politics that had nothing to do with learning I wasn’t interested, and mentioned framing it. My mother said to me, with her back turned busy doing something else, that surely they accepted kids with worse grades than mine, completely misunderstanding why I wanted to frame it, put it in a place of honor in my room; it wasn’t a swelled head, a sense of wrongly prideful arrogance, traits I’d never really had a problem with, it was the fact that, forget I was the first one in my immediate family to go to college, or that with my physical limitations I needed a college degree to have a chance at earning a living or that she all but demanded I do so,  it was knowing  the school I wanted to go to wanted me despite an abysmal ACT score, no college prep courses, they still saw potential in me. I was going to get to go where I wanted, where I thought I could do well, I had a shot at a dream not dashed before it had even begun, I didn’t have to brave the gantlet of the state university 300 people a classroom, sprawling campus that was really over my head; neither would I have to acquiesce to vocational rehabilitation’s plans for me to attend college in a neighboring town in a more “lucrative,” mainstream felid. Proof being in the pudding, I graduated cum laude and was on the dean’s list more than not.  Adjacently youth sports experts caution against children specializing in a sport prior to age 12 citing everything from developmental capacity to comprehend that commitment leading to  burn out, an eventual hatred for the sport, competition in general to the benefit of a multi-sport approach in lessening injury, muscle, bone stresses and strain, athlete commentary on how soccer drills helped improve tennis footwork, dissuading the idea childhood should be about work, how they will translate a sports specialization, rather than play, experimentation truths that transcend sports. Finally in this section, there’s looking at what people who win do with all that accomplishment, achievement, “earned success;” athletes behaving badly was an endless phenomenon before Tom Brady and deflate-gate, before Ray Rice punched out his girlfriend on camera and blew the lid off the NFL’s massive cover-up and inattention to domestic violence, before Adrian Peterson found himself called out for child abuse after pictures surfaced of a spanking given to his 4 year old for minor misbehavior that was nothing short of a flogging including hitting the child’s genitals and stuffing leaves into his mouth. Before Michael Vic’s jail time for dog fighting, there was Mike Tyson; how about Jason Kidd’s domestic violence charge and ironic divorce 6 years later claiming his wife the abuser?  Before Lawrence Taylor was arrested and convicted of statutory rape for sex with a 16 year old there was the Vikings boat party and women brought there for sex, booze included and the sexual misconduct charges that followed; preceding Aaron Hernandez’s arrest, trial and conviction in the death of at least 2 people exposing a tumultuous past and a history of violence there was  Plaxico Burress and his gun charge stemming from being too ignorant, lazy, infatuated with his own success to get a proper gun permit for where he lived, who shot himself with his own gun stuffed into his pants earing him 2 felonies and a 2 year prison sentence. Personally and financially athletes don’t fare better excluding domestic violence there are still the messy and expensive divorces; Tiger Woods is now more known for his marital cheating and his controversial girlfriend than his extraordinary golf game. Check out the second non-video link below showcasing the insane things athletes bought, athletes who inevitably end up in crushing debt often filing for bankruptcy.  Athletes who when they do start to decline due to age, injury, are no longer the hottest thing on the market don’t know what to do with themselves, personally self-destruct or thrown tantrums at referees for bad calls, blame fellow teammates for failures, launch sports equipment, commonly golf clubs, swear like sailors while acting like oversized 5 year olds in need of a nap and an age commiserate conversation on sportsmanship, but consistent winning is a good thing and participation trophies are bad, being happy with, satisfied with a participation trophy even worse.

Outside the societal implications of decrying the participation trophy, championing something other than the wussification of America is the irony that James Harrison is the one delivering such a message; the man who has the nickname Deebo, apparently from the movie Friday, a character who is a bully, petty criminal thug, mirroring Harrison himself, mirroring Harrison’s actions before being on the field and while being a professional football player, one unsurprisingly with dubious ethics. Surpassing his high school litany of suspensions for challenging a coach to fight, rude gestures to fans, court appearance for letting off a bb gun in the locker room, Harrison has maintained his streak of the typically redundant, laundry list run-ins with the law, problems at work; sure he was a walk on at Kent State, the bigger story is why, character and the fact no one felt they could trust him. Fears apparently wholly justified if his fellow teammate as far in as his rookie year with the Steelers is any indication “Harrison was so green early on in his career that he would simply “give up” on plays on which he was struggling and even would ask the coaches not to play him when he was struggling. [James] Farrior said, “He was a knucklehead that didn’t know the plays. We’d be in practice, in training camp, and he might not know what he was doing so he’d just stop and throw his hands up and tell (the coaches) to get him out of there. We thought the guy was crazy.” Doesn’t sound like a winning, persevering attitude to anyone does it; obviously he stuck with it, obviously he mastered the plays, went on to do great things at least for a while. He has had to work so hard, come back from behind less because of his upbringing, family socioeconomic status and instead because he kept digging holes for himself, putting obstacles in his own way.  Justified again when he was arrested in ’08 for simple assault and criminal mischief centering around a domestic incident with his girlfriend, or in ‘09 when the family pit bull hospitalized his toddler son with bites, or on the field, circa 2010, where he kept having to be fined for illegal plays rendered off limits due to their known connection to traumatic, chronic brain injury, once more in 2011 when he did a cover photo shoot and interview in Men’s Journal showing him shirtless and holding 2 guns under the nickname hit man, an interview where he bad mouthed his boss Roger Goodell, always a good way to get fired, (and while there may be plenty of reasons to hate Goodell now none of those were the substance of Harrison’s argument) going on to make anti-homosexual comments and criticize teammates forcing him to issue an apology shortly thereafter. Yes we know he carries the ‘hit man’ nickname being a football linebacker, but even commentators for the sport noted you can’t do that in today’s world, because that wasn’t a ball he was holding, no helmet on his head, no jersey he was holding up tying it to his game persona but instead 2 guns tying it to his thug personality. Even rap stars who make a ridiculously obscene, lavish living from lyrics placed in a backbeat about their dark pasts are only acknowledging where they came from, using it to get out of that life, advocate young people never get in it, don’t do what I did; where James Harrison seems to be saying, via Instagram, the opposite, do exactly as I did sons, kids looking to me as a role model. Hints link 1 below by a father who says not my family, not my values chastising us and our pathetically short term memories for holding the former up as “as the paragon of great old-school fatherhood” chiefly because someone vouched for our worldview on social media his behavior be damned; equally irritated at Harrison himself for positioning himself as a “Mt. Rushmoreian parent” after ‘losing thousands in family support dollars because he can’t play within the rules of his trade.’  Blogger noting his son, despite receiving a plaque during preschool youth soccer, 2 years before still at age 5, came to the conclusion hard work, effort was the way to get where he wanted to be; pledging “he’ll be better than Lionel Messi someday” incidentally mainly because he has something he feels passionate about and desperately wants to obtain, without a lecture from dad. Appears it’s past time, long past time he, James Harrison, reaped what he has so rightfully earned, his just reward—permanent ejection from the professional game of football for an inability to follow the rules, a commiserate jail sentence for the domestic violence charge he doubtlessly used his name to skirt by attending anger management and psychotherapy, forfeiture of custody of his 2 children to their mother or appropriate guardian stemming from the above issues compounded by the pit bull dog bite that left one of them hospitalized, injured his wife and massage therapist to boot and who used his team connections to divert the dog, scheduled to be euthanized, to a home for aggressive animal rehabilitation. In all fairness to the dog, probably the most humane and just thing for it taking into account his unfit owner, yet it is another example of power, wealth and privilege winning out over merit, the rules of law and order by persons who shouldn’t have what they’ve managed to gain, if character, decency and hard work mean what we say it does.  Once finished with jail, only allowed supervised visitation with his children, because while they need a father in their life, he clearly doesn’t know how to take care of them or adequately guide them down anything but the semi-self-destructive path he has been on for years. And it’s high time we the discerning, consuming public, pay attention, actually look at these sudden soap-boxers, sudden morality champions particularly lighting up social media; true I’m forever praising someone who got it right this time however, while his words seem correct in an era of mediocrity, they are hollow compared to his recent prior actions, proof he hasn’t learned the lessons he says he wants to teach his sons. Remember according to Harrison logic we would remove all the medals from Special Olympics for character traits, positive attitudes, leadership, helpfulness, teammate encouragement because they don’t constitute winning.

Begging the broader question when, when, when will we heartily examine what all our insatiable competition is getting us; separating  from sports analogies in a game where the objective is to keep score, to determine a winner, a loser, despite emphasis on test scores, implementation of common core and a thousand other plans to enhance student performance on national, international standardized testing, there are those who still believe we aren’t winning against China and test scores haven’t moved. Not one person daring to suggest it’s test taking itself people have a problem with not learning, accumulation of knowledge or practical skill, applying the above, to say nothing of the difference between knowledge and wisdom; that as studies have shown time and time again competition is detrimental to the goal, learning. Still somehow a generation shying away from competition, singular objective winning, in pursuit of other more intrinsic values one might add, it’s a sign of weakness conveniently forgetting the only thing competition has done is spawned every cheating scandal in existence across all time, especially recent history, on or off the ball field performance enhancing drugs, doping, teachers changing answers on national achievement tests worried about their jobs or their districts funding, to students pressured by their parents, by the cutthroat process to get into college, the premium, top, known schools being the last prayer at a meaningful middle class life, cheating on the ACT, SAT entrance exam, paying handsomely to have an unscrupulous test taker gaming the system sit the test for them. Graduating to adult life, larger implications, hey we may have the worst test scores but for the most part we own them, the teachers prosecuted, the ACT/SAT scam exposed a direct contrast to China, the entire country, or at minimum entire government, who was dubiously allowed to participate in the most popular international scholastic test PSIA only including results data from their wealthiest province Shanghai; both China and test organizers tight lipped about the exception made and the ‘missing children.’ Before Bernie Madoff their was Kenneth Lay; there isn’t room here to discuss all the religious pastors falling from grace, money swindling schemes perpetuated out of a house of god. Repeatedly ignored is the effect on the individual persons we expect to perform to such exacting standards whether it’s with our spouses, our kids, our friends, our employees, our bosses, our doctors, our restaurant server or other famous faces wowing us with what they can do seemingly beyond human capability; consider what famed author JK Rowling said referencing her completion of the Harry Potter franchise, sitting down with Oprah discussing the closure of that chapter of her life what’s next generating the following conversation quote, “Knowing when to let go and move forward is a lesson Rowling said she learned from Michael Jackson, the king of pop who grew up to light the world on fire with his own “Thriller.” ‘He wanted to do ‘Thriller’ again and again and again and instead of accepting that he had produced one of the best albums of all time, and he would always have that, and freeing him to do, I don’t know, to do something maybe a little more offbeat or explore, and risk failure, I mean, it’s tragic, actually. It’s very, very sad that someone with that amount of talent would be chasing that,’ she said. Certainly it gave us some of the greatest music spanning decades, but at what cost to the man, what toll on the soul; a man who carved up his face in order to look ‘perfect,’ who was horribly depressed and couldn’t recognize the worth of his own accomplishments crying backstage at performances that blew audiences’ socks off. Never asked about are situations where, when participation is the goal, encompasses the entirety of the point, where a participation trophy can encourage a child to branch out, try new things, discover where they fit in, give what the ‘not my values dad’ highlighted in his article referencing preschool soccer league and their participation plaque, a sense of belonging. Key in a system already rigged to keep kids from exploring, ascertaining what they are good at academia, career wise because we insist on assigning a grade to everything and parents, colleges, related entities insist on good grades petrifying kids to try for fear of lectures from their parents, dragging down their GPA more than an inability to cope with failure themselves; perhaps best remembered by that scene in another iconic classic The Breakfast Club where they all go around telling why they ended up in detention and the kid who used a flare gun in an unknown botched suicide attempt for failing shop class over a lamp that wouldn’t function, why he couldn’t accept the F. Then we wonder why students today can’t pick a major, spend years in school sans graduating. Lending credence to the USA Today columnist who said, “…older generations always find something to harrumph about in younger generations, true since Stone Age rock-heads. That’s all this really is, a belief that things were better in a past that never was. Maybe instead of harrumphing about participation trophies and warped senses of specialness they should display the wisdom they want us to believe they have and harrumph all this negative competition getting us nowhere.

Other vast misconceptions, that the so called “real world” is without incentives, rewards for small things whether it’s a gold star in kindergarten, an attendance award at school or a participation award for peewee football, youth soccer, junior hockey league; how else do you explain bonuses, golden parachutes given to exiting CEO’s, jobs that pay by commission, extra benefits, work perks offered by employers to draw their most desired persons, offered in fields struggling to get workers; today those include almost anything in manual labor, welding, construction exc. It should make us all want to see James Harrison’s professional contracts and see what perks, privileges he was given to play on his professional teems; true he was a walk on at Kent state, had to prove his worth, his abilities however, once he had, what perks did he get to stay with the team? We all know college recruiters responsible for finding high school talent, scoping high school talent will offer that kid anything short of the kitchen sink, within the rules, often making headlines for breaking those rules, to get that kid to play for their school when they are eligible. Or that we ever lived in a meritocracy to begin with, at minimum for the last 45 years; people are chiefly against participation trophies citing the working world doesn’t operate that way, instead operating on actual achievement, tangible accomplishment, solid qualifications in terms of degrees, certifications, awards based on innovation, sales numbers and so forth. Except now, going back to the 1970’s, who can honestly say they got their job solely on their credentials coupled with a stellar interview, at the very least didn’t get a leg up, better consideration based on whose name they could drop, who they know who used to work there, the fact their family member works there or their husband’s friend recommended them for the job, their last name is well known based on the accomplishments of their parents? Teens getting their first job increase their chances if a friend who also works there can vouch for them; today if you want a job you better network, network, network, sidestepping how many jobs aren’t listed on job boards, listed on government, career specific websites, in local want ads or establishments hanging now hiring signs, it’s who you know not what, who your current employer was able to entice you away from, present day more than ever. Job experts telling job seekers to reach out to their network, thinking if you’ve been working longer than a couple of years it should contain no less than 100 people; why is that if we live in a meritocracy? If you know few people, or not at all, no career moves for you shunted into medial level work. Politics has been like this since its inception; who you can connect with, who you can convince to give you money to campaign, often trading political favors for dollars, too many times votes despite the illegality. Even back in America’s hay day the 1950’s, 1960’s when people would take someone down on their luck, needing to work and give them a job, take a bright eyed kid just out of school and offer them an opportunity, sure it was the right thing to do, but it had nothing to do with merit. Do we honestly think names like Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Jay Gould amassed literal empires on merit, investment talent and an uncanny intuition for good deals?  Ha, we know better; these 19th and early 20th century businessmen used every underhanded tactic there was to defraud the public, their competitors before there were laws against it. But we peg young people, who’ve figured out we don’t live in the meritocracy we’ve deluded ourselves into believing we do, as lazy because they no longer buy the bill of good we’ve sold to the previous generation, they know exactly what their chances are of getting into college when poor, know exactly what they are likely to find when they get out regardless of economic status yet we expect them to be highly enthused about education, jostling to get on the hamster wheel. This is what occupy Wall Street was about the millennials who had earned their, diplomas, their degrees, gone in to debt to gain both and were getting the run around by businesses who rebuffed internships, refused job training things making those pieces of paper functional, a goal post that’s supposed to remain stationary keeps moving piling on more degrees, certifications, knowledge of technology, not just to keep a job, but before they can hope to get one while Wall Street fat cats get rich manipulating other people’s money and we bailed out their momentous screw up; still we boiled it down to “an island of misfit toys in hemp hoodies who needed to get a job right after they took a bath. Resounding echo they would if they could, why we have so many unemployed, underperforming millennials not laziness, entitlement, obsession with their own specialness.  Simultaneously for the more optimistic millennial, gen Y they seem so entitled because they know without a high school diploma, a college degree almost always containing one class, one degree requirement that has nothing to do with where they intend to go within their chosen field, and if they don’t at least get that far they have no way to demonstrate, prove what they can do. Wrapping things up, Woody Allen got it right 80% of life is showing up, is participating a paradigm we have exaggerated and clung to entirely too strenuously if recent studies are true; understanding given’s like outside criminal activity on or off the job, showing up at work noticeably under the influence, poor attendance is the quickest way to be fired, since the advent of things such as flex time, evolving technology allowing us to work from anywhere, growing trend home, bosses are still penalizing women who use it and rewarding others, men who log the 24/7 on-call availability they believe necessary in today’s work world, spend more hours in the office. But as the analysis company pointed out there were men not logging those hours who flew under the radar still giving company and clients what they needed, a woman calling out her boss when he brought up who was present more, that she thought she was doing a good job, clients were satisfied, she produced good work product. Important too, more hours in the office didn’t mean being more productive all indicators showing they have no intention of changing dynamics, expectations or their measure for achievement. Until then who cares about a participation trophy as if there was a reason to get bent over it in the first place; chief thing employers want is someone who will show up and work daily- hello Mr. Harrison.