26 October 2014

What in the World is a Mercy Law?

Politics is one of my least favorite subjects. And even in my writing I try not to dig into it. Mostly because, well, I hate it. Let's just let them fight it out...

I'm joking.

However, the other day I was listening to talk radio. I know, creepy. Not my usual commute pastime, but the subject caught my attention. They were talking about two things: The Mercy Law and the shooting in the school in Seattle this past week. At that point, I hadn’t heard about either one.

Apparently there has been an outcry against sports teams (especially in the little leagues and younger players) that outscore the opposing team by what someone has deemed “too many points.”

This is the story as I heard it. I haven't dug into the details personally. A little league football team had hit their maximum points as dictated by the mercy law. A kid on the defense intercepted the ball and, as he should have, ran it back for a touchdown. The game was already more than 30 points to zero. Well, the team got fined like $100 and the coach got fined $500. Something like that. All because an 8 year old kid saw a perfect opportunity and took it.

The Seattle shooting was yet another teenage boy—after a traumatic break-up with his girlfriend and depressed—with a gun who went to school, shot some other teenagers then killed himself. Again, I haven't delved into the details, but this is the gist.

The talk show was taking calls about both of these subjects. People had some good thoughts on both.

Some one pointed out the fact that if we enact mercy laws during sporting events, that we’re telling the players not to bother playing their hardest, because that’s just too much. Don’t bother training to that level, because you running faster than the other guy is going to make him feel bad.

Another guy mentioned the other side of the mercy law. Someone who is better than you at something is essentially punished because they're better than you. They’ve worked harder, but because that makes you feel bad about yourself, a higher power will make sure they’re not too good, and that they don’t hurt your feeler any more. Which is a strange and twisted sort of entitlement.

Now I do Kempo, and I’ve helped at a few tournaments. We give all the little kids that participate little medallions or trophy’s or whatever. I think that’s fine. BUT, we also give away a first, second and third place trophy. There is usually an obvious winner—someone who has worked harder than the rest to stand out while doing their form. That effort should be rewarded.

I once read a talk by Ezra Taft Benson (Former President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) that stated something along these lines: If someone accomplishes a great feat that they have worked hard at, it does not make you a lesser person. If you think it does, then you’ve got a pride issue. That's the interpretation that I got from the talk. If you want to check it out, click here.

On some level, kids aren’t getting to have those disappointing experiences. They don’t get to lose or get trounced by another team or another athlete or another brain bowl contestant. Remembering the trauma of these things, adults do their best to soften the blows to these poor children’s self-esteems.

Unfortunately, without learning how to deal with disappointment, kids never figure out how to bounce back from it. And when their girlfriend breaks up with them and they’re feeling depressed they might grab their parent’s gun and take it to school.

Don’t get me wrong, I hate seeing a sports team blown out of the water. I like people to be happy. I’m always trying to make people smile or laugh or forget about their problems, but no one can go through life without some strife.

There is a segment of children who will be crushed for life if they are defeated in anything, but there should be parents and friends and coaches that are there to help kids learn from the bad and turn it into something good.

So my conclusion was that maybe we have children shooting children because they've never learned how to healthily deal with loss, frustration, anger or tragedy.

I'm not trying to start a war here, but if anyone has comments, feel free to leave them! But be nice...

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