I think it was about seven or eight years ago that one of my friends, a young mom of two little league participants, invited me to attend one of her son’s baseball games. My daughter who was ten years old at the time, was a friend of her son who was playing in the game, and she wanted to go as well, so off we went to watch our first little league game in several years as my boys were at the tail end of high school and in college at this point. When we arrived at the field, my friend waved at me to let me know where she was sitting in the bleachers and within a minute or two, we had our seats and were eagerly expecting the game to begin. To be perfectly honest, I had been thinking that the whole experience was going to be sort of boring but I actually started feeling a bit nostalgic as it brought back memories of my son Ben playing little league many years earlier and I was really looking forward to the start of the game. The first inning went by with no hits. The second inning went by with one walk , one hit by both teams. I was beginning to think that it was going to be an awfully long day. Then in the third inning, the opposing team again, had only one hit and no runs to their credit, but there was some exciting news on the horizon…my friend’s son’s team was now up to bat and already  had two runners on first and second with two outs when the next batter approached the batter’s box. Now I was getting excited because I realized that considering the pace of the game up to this point, that this might be this team’s one great chance to score if this last batter could just connect with the ball at all..just a single and our guy on second had a chance to score. I moved a little bit up in my seat as I was really pulling for this next little guy out there to smack that ball into fair play..anywhere…and he did ! The next sound I heard was a sharp crack of the bat as our batter hit a crisp line drive down the third base line right past the third baseman. Not only did our guy on second base score, but so did our runner on first. Needless to say, I was jumping up and down , clapping my hands, yelling wildly as I was caught up in the frenzied excitement of this little kid pulling through in the clutch when his team really needed him to. As I sat down, I excitedly said to my young mom friend “This is great..we’re winning two to nothing now, and at the rate this game was going, I don’t think the other team is going to catch up.”  My friend just stared at me blankly and said something very casually that completely baffled me. She simply said in a very flat, emotionless tone “Oh no…it’s not like that, they don’t keep score.”  I said “ Excuse me?” to which she again said “Oh they stopped keeping score the year before last because they just don’t think it’s good for the self esteem of the kids who lose.”  The manner in which she told me this was all very hum drum as if this was the most sensible news  in the world that she was telling me. To put it mildly , I was disturbed, angered, confused and frightened all at the same time.  I felt my knees buckling so I slowly sat down and just stared at her and replied “You are kidding me, right?..Please tell me that you are kidding me.”  She knows me well, so she just smiled in a resigned sort of way, and said “No, I wish I was, but it’s been like this for a couple of years now.” She then went on to explain that the league’s new philosophy was that the game should be instructive and fun, not competitive.  I wanted to cry. Folks, do you know that in many of our elementary schools and programs today, that “competition” is the new taboo word and concept? Yes, it is true! School systems, administrations, program directors, education “experts” ..many folks in places of authority who have power to make all important decisions have bought into the incorrect philosophy and mindset that somehow, competition corrupts. They mistakenly believe that  competition is somehow a cruel and mean thing as it demands that in the end, there be a loser and a winner which according to them, is a terrible thing. How grossly off track and misguided their thinking is! Competition is a right and healthy concept that has been woven into the very fabric of this great and glorious country of ours. Not just in the arena of sports, but in the real life and death struggles to secure our freedom in the early days of our nation, be assured that competition was the crucial element. In every battle, every war, there was most certainly a winner and a loser.  At the professional level , if a company is interviewing two job applicants for just one position, there will be a winner and a loser. In all sports, at the high school, collegiate and professional levels, not only is the score  kept at every event, but huge amounts of revenue for the team, the city , the franchise are all contingent on the scores , the records of the teams involved.  So why in the world then are we not preparing our youngsters for the next steps that they will eventually be taking? When are we going to learn that a child does not gain self esteem by having a smiley face sticker handed to  them that says “I am special”?  Kids are not dumb creatures , they are just like us adults in many ways. They KNOW INSIDE if they have worked hard , practiced hard, and fought their way to victory and if they have, then that sought after self esteem wells up naturally within them. Self esteem simply cannot be counterfeited with cheap shallow programs and slogans that tell kids that they will get self esteem because they are so special. Our youth of today does not need another little league set of rules that states that they will all feel good because no longer will any scores be kept at games. These kids will only feel good and rightfully proud of themselves if they work and practice hard and then put all that hard work and practice into action in a game where it counts and then they win that game because they pulled through when it mattered! Simply put, self esteem cannot be manufactured or fabricated and guess what…the kids themselves know this because every kid on my friend’s son’s team that day was secretly keeping score within his head. Oh yes..after the game,  that little guy immediately informed his mom of what the “ real score” was and how they had won. It’s just a shame that his and his team mates’ well earned victory was not allowed to be recognized and celebrated because it was sacrificed on the altar of today’s cry for the need of phony self esteem. Not to mention that we are depriving our kids today of the value of the experience of losing. Did anyone happen to hear the interview of the great college quarterback Tim Tebow of the Florida Gators earlier this year? He was so crushed and disappointed after a loss that he told the nation through trembling lips and a determined spirit that no one would work harder than him to come back and win the national championship and he did just that. I wonder if he would have had that determined heart and spirit if he had not suffered that crushing loss? Absolutely not. America, we need to shake ourselves and just get back to common sense. We are robbing our young people today of so much that can make them strong, confident and determined and instead we are making them weak . Remember the popular slogan that we all heard years ago on television when talking about sports…the announcer would declare “THE THRILL OF VICTORY, THE AGONY OF DEFEAT !”  Why in the world would we want to rob our kids of  those thrills and yes, those agonies ?  The  more pertinent  question that we as parents in this confused society today all need to cry out is WHERE IN THE WORLD IS THE SCOREBOARD?  I sincerely hope that if enough of us parents and grandparents cry out, our voice will be heard. Let’s not cheat our kids ….they deserve so much more.