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Stunning Column Reminds Us: 'Competition Is Cruel and America Needs a Whole Lot More of It

"We need to let our kids fail more. Life is not a sporting event with perfect rules and regulations and without losers."

(Credit: Spartan Race web site)

Joseph De Sena is CEO of Reebok Spartan Race, and when it comes to America's downward spiral into becoming a culture of no effort and no achievement, he cuts right to the chase.

"Today, everyone gets a trophy," he writes. "Wristbands have replaced stopwatches as the new performance measure. Everyone wins. The self esteem before score mantra has built a handholding fantasy culture that is leaving our children woefully unprepared for the ups and downs of life."

(Credit: Spartan Race web site)

In a stunning, strident column for USA Today, "Crave Competition, It's Good for You," De Sena clearly has had enough with Americans settling not merely for second best, but a lot farther away from the winner's circle with every passing year:

Competition matters profoundly. Why? Life is a competition at every turn and many times the rules of engagement are not fair. Measuring performance matters. Without it we are a nation of underachievers. It is time our country and our kids to get back to winning and losing on the playing fields and failing and honor-rolling in the classroom. Our fun run approach to life is weaning future generations off of guts, fortitude, discipline, risk taking, confidence and other critically important ingredients for achievement. No wonder the United States ranks 25th and 17th out of 34 countries in math and science.

Indeed, De Sena has no sympathy for those who adhere to gooey platitudes that discourage effort and in the end dissuade individuals from living life to the fullest and in the best way possible: "If you're content with just showing up, then be prepared to have a long line in front of you in almost every aspect of your life," he writes.

Of course, you may balk at his anecdote about his children that he says demonstrating why kids do better with schedules and discipline: "We have our kids up at 5:45 exercising and simultaneously learning languages during those workouts. Every night before dinner they are doing it again. They workout two hours a day, seven days a week. Some people think this is excessive and, if I haven't already, I will soon be christened Tiger Dad."

(Credit: Spartan Race web site)

But in the end, De Sena echoes much of what conservative leaders such as Glenn Beck have been saying for a while: "We need to let our kids fail more. Life is not a sporting event with perfect rules and regulations and without losers. The best and smartest don't always win. Sometimes breaking the rules and not playing fairly are rewarded with victory. Will your kids be ready for that? Mine will."

(Credit: Spartan Race web site) 

Check out the entire column at USA Today.

Here's De Sena breaking down his exercise and competition philosophy:

(H/T: USA Today)

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