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Poll - Leveling the Playing Field

Is it okay to level the playing field?

  • Yes

    Votes: 3 13.6%
  • No

    Votes: 16 72.7%
  • It depends

    Votes: 3 13.6%
  • other

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    22

amc80

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Say there's a classroom of kids all the same age. One of the kids is noticeably bigger/stronger/faster/more athletic than the others. Do you think it's okay to adjust physical games for that one child in order to make it more difficult for them?

Example: The kids are playing tag, and the kid in question is made to start further away from the group in order to give the other kids a change to run/disperse.

I can give background later on, but I wanted to get opinions first.
 

liaerfbv

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I don't think it's fair to penalize a kid for being better than other kids. Not everything has to be fair. Some people are more athletic than others and that's okay.
 

blackprophet

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I was that kid.

I felt like I always tried to include others as best to my ability. I remember one time where our teacher took all the "bigger faster stronger" kids while playing basketball and made them stand in one spot away from the baskets and could only pass, not shoot or move. During the game I was very annoyed, but after the game I asked the teacher why he did it, and how it was unfair, and how I made an effort to include my classmates. He explained to me that as much as I try to be fair, I'm still going to dominate, and hog the ball. And that the other kids should have a chance to enjoy as much as I do.

I appreciated what he did then, and I still appreciate it now. It wasn't an every day thing, but it was a good learning experience for me. I don't think he was wrong.

I also think giving that kid extra challenges is constructive. Teach them hard work. If this was a super smart kid getting extra or more difficult work, or was skipped a grade, we wouldn't think twice about it.
 

amc80

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There was an "it depends" vote, so I'll give more details.

This morning, DH and I attended a parent-teacher conference for our oldest son, B. B is 3.5 and attends preschool. All of the kids in his class are 3 as well.

Part of the evaluation is on coordination, physical development, motor skills, etc. B has always been big for his age. He's about 10lbs heavier and 4" taller than an average kid his age. He's also very athletic. We know this, and the teacher told us this as well.

She said that because he's so much bigger/stronger/faster than the other kids that she has to "handicap" him when they play certain games. At first I thought that it was sort of funny, but the more I think about it, the more annoyed I am with it. If he's faster than the other kids, well, good for him. I mean, if they were running a race, would she start him 20 feet behind the other kids? That doesn't seem fair at all.

Disclaimer- I'm very much against the "everybody's a winner, trophies for all" mentality. Different people have different strengths and weakness, and that's okay. B will probably never win an art contest, and I don't expect him to get special help in art just so he thinks he's better at it than he is.
 

kenny

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Of course not.

People are never too young to learn that people vary.
 

amc80

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blackprophet|1458157804|4006255 said:
I was that kid.

I felt like I always tried to include others as best to my ability. I remember one time where our teacher took all the "bigger faster stronger" kids while playing basketball and made them stand in one spot away from the baskets and could only pass, not shoot or move. During the game I was very annoyed, but after the game I asked the teacher why he did it, and how it was unfair, and how I made an effort to include my classmates. He explained to me that as much as I try to be fair, I'm still going to dominate, and hog the ball. And that the other kids should have a chance to enjoy as much as I do.

I appreciated what he did then, and I still appreciate it now. It wasn't an every day thing, but it was a good learning experience for me. I don't think he was wrong.

I also think giving that kid extra challenges is constructive. Teach them hard work. If this was a super smart kid getting extra or more difficult work, or was skipped a grade, we wouldn't think twice about it.
Interesting perspective, thanks for sharing!
 

telephone89

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I don't think what she is doing is negative at all. If your son is faster than the others - he is still going to be fast. He's just starting in a different place. Winning or losing doesn't change how fast he can run?
 

amc80

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telephone89|1458158372|4006264 said:
I don't think what she is doing is negative at all. If your son is faster than the others - he is still going to be fast. He's just starting in a different place. Winning or losing doesn't change how fast he can run?
I'm trying to relate it to something relevant to me. I used to play soccer. If I'm a better shot than others on my team, should I have to make more difficult shots? What's wrong with me standing at the same place as everyone else and just making a higher percentage of my shots?

I also don't know if, at 3, he really understands why he is being singled out and having to do things differently than all of his friends.
 

VirginiaZee

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I don't understand why someone should be penalized for being more athletically gifted than other kids. I wouldn't expect a smarter kid to be given a harder test so that their grades lined up with the average, or a better artist or musician to be given some sort of handicap. When did we start with the "everyone's a special snowflake" mentality, rather than celebrating that people are good at different things, and that that's okay? If it was me I think I'd talk with the teacher again and find out more information, and see if I could also find out what their philosophy on "special snowflakes" is.... but that's just me.
 

PintoBean

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amc80|1458158595|4006266 said:
telephone89|1458158372|4006264 said:
I don't think what she is doing is negative at all. If your son is faster than the others - he is still going to be fast. He's just starting in a different place. Winning or losing doesn't change how fast he can run?
I'm trying to relate it to something relevant to me. I used to play soccer. If I'm a better shot than others on my team, should I have to make more difficult shots? What's wrong with me standing at the same place as everyone else and just making a higher percentage of my shots?

I also don't know if, at 3, he really understands why he is being singled out and having to do things differently than all of his friends.
This is what i was wondering myself! And isn't it a good thing for him to learn how to play with smaller kids so that he learns that he has to be careful not to bulldoze the smaller kids, and to play nice? Chances are he may always be bigger than his peers, so he might as well learn as young as possible how to play with kids of all different sizes and abilities.
 

packrat

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amc80|1458157842|4006256 said:
There was an "it depends" vote, so I'll give more details.

This morning, DH and I attended a parent-teacher conference for our oldest son, B. B is 3.5 and attends preschool. All of the kids in his class are 3 as well.

Part of the evaluation is on coordination, physical development, motor skills, etc. B has always been big for his age. He's about 10lbs heavier and 4" taller than an average kid his age. He's also very athletic. We know this, and the teacher told us this as well.

She said that because he's so much bigger/stronger/faster than the other kids that she has to "handicap" him when they play certain games. At first I thought that it was sort of funny, but the more I think about it, the more annoyed I am with it. If he's faster than the other kids, well, good for him. I mean, if they were running a race, would she start him 20 feet behind the other kids? That doesn't seem fair at all.

Disclaimer- I'm very much against the "everybody's a winner, trophies for all" mentality. Different people have different strengths and weakness, and that's okay. B will probably never win an art contest, and I don't expect him to get special help in art just so he thinks he's better at it than he is.
No. No. Just no that is NOT okay. It is not appropriate to do this. If he were better at math when he gets older should they give him less time to do a quiz or double the amount of work he has to do? No. I would absolutely 100% advocate for my child and speak to the teacher and/or program director. I've been in preschool now for four years and that's not acceptable.
 

maccers

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Joined
Sep 19, 2012
Messages
1,166
The example you give sounds like social exclusion which is not okay. And the reality of our world is people have different capabilities and kids need to learn that. The only situation where it might be okay (and I can't think of an example) is if the physical difference means the kids (big or small) might get injured.
 

sonnyjane

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Joined
Jul 13, 2008
Messages
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packrat|1458159792|4006278 said:
amc80|1458157842|4006256 said:
There was an "it depends" vote, so I'll give more details.

This morning, DH and I attended a parent-teacher conference for our oldest son, B. B is 3.5 and attends preschool. All of the kids in his class are 3 as well.

Part of the evaluation is on coordination, physical development, motor skills, etc. B has always been big for his age. He's about 10lbs heavier and 4" taller than an average kid his age. He's also very athletic. We know this, and the teacher told us this as well.

She said that because he's so much bigger/stronger/faster than the other kids that she has to "handicap" him when they play certain games. At first I thought that it was sort of funny, but the more I think about it, the more annoyed I am with it. If he's faster than the other kids, well, good for him. I mean, if they were running a race, would she start him 20 feet behind the other kids? That doesn't seem fair at all.

Disclaimer- I'm very much against the "everybody's a winner, trophies for all" mentality. Different people have different strengths and weakness, and that's okay. B will probably never win an art contest, and I don't expect him to get special help in art just so he thinks he's better at it than he is.
No. No. Just no that is NOT okay. It is not appropriate to do this. If he were better at math when he gets older should they give him less time to do a quiz or double the amount of work he has to do? No. I would absolutely 100% advocate for my child and speak to the teacher and/or program director. I've been in preschool now for four years and that's not acceptable.
That's exactly the example I was going to give as well. This is soooooo not ok.
 

partgypsy

Ideal_Rock
Premium
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Messages
6,401
I would say no. That's stupid.

My oldest dd was in elementary school either her last year or the year before she graduated. They have an annual school fundraiser fair. There are games you can redeem for tokens for prizes. At the throwing and basketball shooting games she was told after doing it a few times she couldn't do those games. She is tall for her age and has long arms, and was winning each time. She was a little bummed because those were her favorite games but it wasn't a huge deal.
 

telephone89

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amc80|1458158595|4006266 said:
telephone89|1458158372|4006264 said:
I don't think what she is doing is negative at all. If your son is faster than the others - he is still going to be fast. He's just starting in a different place. Winning or losing doesn't change how fast he can run?
I'm trying to relate it to something relevant to me. I used to play soccer. If I'm a better shot than others on my team, should I have to make more difficult shots? What's wrong with me standing at the same place as everyone else and just making a higher percentage of my shots?

I also don't know if, at 3, he really understands why he is being singled out and having to do things differently than all of his friends.
In the example you use - you'd actually get BETTER than the other kids. If your teacher/coach is pushing you and encouraging you to do harder/more difficult tasks, then you will get better.
Someone else used a math example. Back in the day, I was actually really good at math. My teachers would give me extra assignments, more difficult problems to solve, etc. They saw an aptitude and pursued it. That to me, is a good teacher. That isn't punishment for being better. That isn't helping the other kids because they suck at math. It makes NO difference to other kids how good *I* am at math. But it makes a huge difference to learn more and be pushed for me.
 

sonnyjane

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Messages
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telephone89|1458160764|4006297 said:
amc80|1458158595|4006266 said:
telephone89|1458158372|4006264 said:
I don't think what she is doing is negative at all. If your son is faster than the others - he is still going to be fast. He's just starting in a different place. Winning or losing doesn't change how fast he can run?
I'm trying to relate it to something relevant to me. I used to play soccer. If I'm a better shot than others on my team, should I have to make more difficult shots? What's wrong with me standing at the same place as everyone else and just making a higher percentage of my shots?

I also don't know if, at 3, he really understands why he is being singled out and having to do things differently than all of his friends.
In the example you use - you'd actually get BETTER than the other kids. If your teacher/coach is pushing you and encouraging you to do harder/more difficult tasks, then you will get better.
Someone else used a math example. Back in the day, I was actually really good at math. My teachers would give me extra assignments, more difficult problems to solve, etc. They saw an aptitude and pursued it. That to me, is a good teacher. That isn't punishment for being better. That isn't helping the other kids because they suck at math. It makes NO difference to other kids how good *I* am at math. But it makes a huge difference to learn more and be pushed for me.
There is a huge difference between nurturing talent by providing extra opportunities and stifling talent by taking them away.

Let's say your child runs a 400m lap around the track 20 seconds faster than anyone else in the class, so the teacher makes them start 20 seconds after everyone else in the class next time. What lesson does that teach? That everyone needs to finish equally in the end? Let's say that even with a 20 second handicap, that same child still ends up running 10 seconds faster than everyone else. Where do you stop? Do you now add a 30 second handicap?

Academically, yes teachers can and do provide extra work for those they see are advanced, but it would be wrong to REQUIRE, for example, that because Child A is performing better than Child B in reading, they HAVE to read three books a week while Child B only has to read one. If Child A loves reading and enjoys being "challenged" to read more, fantastic, but the mandatory requirements in the classroom shouldn't be more for one child based on aptitude. I can see children that are smart but don't want to do extra work "hiding" their abilities.
 

House Cat

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And what message is this sending to your son? Are we sure that he knows why he is starting from behind? What if he feels punished? This could be harming him in some way that could hamper his desire to perform in sports at another time in his life.

No way. They need to stop this now.
 

Maria D

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Even though there appears to be disagreement among the posts, I feel like if we were all sitting together over coffee discussing this we'd end up agreeing. Maybe that's because I feel like I understand and agree with every point of view shared.

Yes, it would be wrong to make a child who is faster start a race 20 seconds after the others started. But that's not the same thing as making taller kids have to stand further away to shoot a basket. A running race isn't a team effort, every one is trying their own personal best. The fastest kid should come in first place, it only makes sense. This doesn't prevent any other runner from running as fast as they are able. But in a basketball game, the unusually-tall-and-coordinated-for-their-age child could dominate the game, thereby preventing the other children from benefiting at all. In that case, it makes sense (to me) to have teams grouped by ability - isn't this why later on there's junior varsity and varsity? Or, if there aren't enough children to have homogeneously grouped teams, then yes - level the playing field with some sort of accommodation.

Buuuuut... I think pre-school is way too early to be doing that kind of thing. Yes, sizes, dexterity and ability vary wildly at this age but I think it is wrong to expect a child that young to understand why s/he's being handicapped. Do they really need to be competing against each other in physical competitions at age 3?

Anyone reading this has got to find something to agree with because I contradict myself all over the place! :lol:
 

liaerfbv

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Maria D|1458173521|4006415 said:
Even though there appears to be disagreement among the posts, I feel like if we were all sitting together over coffee discussing this we'd end up agreeing. Maybe that's because I feel like I understand and agree with every point of view shared.

Yes, it would be wrong to make a child who is faster start a race 20 seconds after the others started. But that's not the same thing as making taller kids have to stand further away to shoot a basket. A running race isn't a team effort, every one is trying their own personal best. The fastest kid should come in first place, it only makes sense. This doesn't prevent any other runner from running as fast as they are able. But in a basketball game, the unusually-tall-and-coordinated-for-their-age child could dominate the game, thereby preventing the other children from benefiting at all. In that case, it makes sense (to me) to have teams grouped by ability - isn't this why later on there's junior varsity and varsity? Or, if there aren't enough children to have homogeneously grouped teams, then yes - level the playing field with some sort of accommodation.

Buuuuut... I think pre-school is way too early to be doing that kind of thing. Yes, sizes, dexterity and ability vary wildly at this age but I think it is wrong to expect a child that young to understand why s/he's being handicapped. Do they really need to be competing against each other in physical competitions at age 3?

Anyone reading this has got to find something to agree with because I contradict myself all over the place! :lol:
But why isn't it okay for a child to dominate? That's my issue. I find it extremely unfair that kids who are athletically (or otherwise than academically) gifted are held back in the name of fairness, but a child who excels in academics is given accolades and allowed to work ahead. We should be teaching children that it's okay to be good at different things and no, sometimes things aren't "fair" and how to react and respond to that.
 

Laila619

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This sounds really dumb to me. Furthermore, I don't get why they are even doing this. It's a pre-school for 3 year olds! Bizarre.
 

packrat

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liaerfbv|1458174338|4006421 said:
Maria D|1458173521|4006415 said:
Even though there appears to be disagreement among the posts, I feel like if we were all sitting together over coffee discussing this we'd end up agreeing. Maybe that's because I feel like I understand and agree with every point of view shared.

Yes, it would be wrong to make a child who is faster start a race 20 seconds after the others started. But that's not the same thing as making taller kids have to stand further away to shoot a basket. A running race isn't a team effort, every one is trying their own personal best. The fastest kid should come in first place, it only makes sense. This doesn't prevent any other runner from running as fast as they are able. But in a basketball game, the unusually-tall-and-coordinated-for-their-age child could dominate the game, thereby preventing the other children from benefiting at all. In that case, it makes sense (to me) to have teams grouped by ability - isn't this why later on there's junior varsity and varsity? Or, if there aren't enough children to have homogeneously grouped teams, then yes - level the playing field with some sort of accommodation.

Buuuuut... I think pre-school is way too early to be doing that kind of thing. Yes, sizes, dexterity and ability vary wildly at this age but I think it is wrong to expect a child that young to understand why s/he's being handicapped. Do they really need to be competing against each other in physical competitions at age 3?

Anyone reading this has got to find something to agree with because I contradict myself all over the place! :lol:
But why isn't it okay for a child to dominate? That's my issue. I find it extremely unfair that kids who are athletically (or otherwise than academically) gifted are held back in the name of fairness, but a child who excels in academics is given accolades and allowed to work ahead. We should be teaching children that it's okay to be good at different things and no, sometimes things aren't "fair" and how to react and respond to that.
One child can't dominate, nowadays. It's not our mentality. Everyone wins, everyone gets a medal for showing up, and no one can be better at anything than anyone else b/c it will hurt others' feelings and we wouldn't want to cause any frownie faces, seeing as how we're all so special dontcha know.
 

Puppmom

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First, I don't understand why there is any competition or comparing of children at preschool! It's freaking preschool! Second, at this age it is absolutely unreasonably to "handicap" your child. Age is a factor for me. An older child might desire an extra challenge while a younger child may see it as a punishment.
 

Maria D

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liaerfbv|1458174338|4006421 said:
But why isn't it okay for a child to dominate? That's my issue. I find it extremely unfair that kids who are athletically (or otherwise than academically) gifted are held back in the name of fairness, but a child who excels in academics is given accolades and allowed to work ahead. We should be teaching children that it's okay to be good at different things and no, sometimes things aren't "fair" and how to react and respond to that.
Because then the other children wouldn't get much participation (in the team sport) at all. Why do we separate wrestlers according to weight class? Why don't we let 16 year old boys play on the same football team as 12 year old boys - or girls for that matter?

Dominate in a "personal-best" competition, fine. But in a team sport there should be homogeneity, no?

The child who excels in academics isn't just "allowed" to work ahead, they are challenged to do more. Shouldn't the athletically gifted child (who may not even be so gifted but just be an early bloomer) be challenged to reach her full potential? Or should she just coddled into thinking she's "the best" because she's able to always beat the kids who are not as naturally inclined, or maybe just aren't developmentally ready to compete at her level.
 

Maria D

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puppmom|1458177161|4006460 said:
First, I don't understand why there is any competition or comparing of children at preschool! It's freaking preschool! Second, at this age it is absolutely unreasonably to "handicap" your child. Age is a factor for me. An older child might desire an extra challenge while a younger child may see it as a punishment.
Totally agree!
 

sonnyjane

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packrat|1458176618|4006451 said:
One child can't dominate, nowadays. It's not our mentality. Everyone wins, everyone gets a medal for showing up, and no one can be better at anything than anyone else b/c it will hurt others' feelings and we wouldn't want to cause any frownie faces, seeing as how we're all so special dontcha know.
I can see this unfolding now.

"Wow, Timmy! You sure are fast! If you keep this up, you'll end up in the Olympics one day! But until then, I'm going to need you go sit on the bench for the next 12 years so that everyone else in the class gets a chance to win."
 

monarch64

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puppmom|1458177161|4006460 said:
First, I don't understand why there is any competition or comparing of children at preschool! It's freaking preschool! Second, at this age it is absolutely unreasonably to "handicap" your child. Age is a factor for me. An older child might desire an extra challenge while a younger child may see it as a punishment.
Yeah, what the what? My daughter is about the same age, goes to preschool with kids 3-5 years old, and they all play together on the playground just fine. No competitive or organized games necessary since there is so much playground equipment. My child is also about a head taller than every other kid her age including the boys, and if I was told she was being penalized by being held back at anything due to her physical attributes I'd put a stop to that crap right away. That is totally ridiculous and to me it gives the impression that the teachers/caretakers don't have control. They are either giving in to the kids who are complaining about not being able to run as fast or to the parents of the children who are complaining. If there is that much of a problem, then stop with the competitive games. Like Puppmom said, "it's freaking preschool!" :nono:
 

Maria D

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sonnyjane|1458177383|4006467 said:
packrat|1458176618|4006451 said:
One child can't dominate, nowadays. It's not our mentality. Everyone wins, everyone gets a medal for showing up, and no one can be better at anything than anyone else b/c it will hurt others' feelings and we wouldn't want to cause any frownie faces, seeing as how we're all so special dontcha know.
I can see this unfolding now.

"Wow, Timmy! You sure are fast! If you keep this up, you'll end up in the Olympics one day! But until then, I'm going to need you go sit on the bench for the next 12 years so that everyone else in the class gets a chance to win."
Just wondering why there's this refusal to differentiate between individual and team competition.

We could easily give this sarcastic scenario as well:

"Wow, Timmy! You sure are big for your age! We're going to make sure you only ever compete with kids that aren't as good as you! You won't get the practice you need to become truly great, but for the next 12 years you can beat all the smaller kids!"
 

packrat

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there shouldn't BE competitive sports in a preschool program. Period. You play. That's what preschoolers do, and that's how preschoolers LEARN. Through play. And you play *together*, *with* one another, not *against* one another competitively. That's what organized sports are for and that's NOT what a preschool program is for. End of story.

Is this program accredited? What curriculum do they follow? What kind of assessment system do they use? We are NAEYC (Nat'l Association for the Education of Young Children) and have a five star QRS (Quality Rating System) rating and we use Teaching Strategies/GOLD and the Highscope curriculum. You will not find competition in any of that. And you will certainly not find "hindering" a child for the sole purpose of allowing another child to succeed over the first child.

There is a time and place for competition and competitive sports, and that time is not at 3 and 4 years old in preschool. And there is no time and place for holding a child back that another child may succeed ahead of that child.
 

sonnyjane

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Maria D|1458177316|4006464 said:
Just wondering why there's this refusal to differentiate between individual and team competition.

We could easily give this sarcastic scenario as well:

"Wow, Timmy! You sure are big for your age! We're going to make sure you only ever compete with kids that aren't as good as you! You won't get the practice you need to become truly great, but for the next 12 years you can beat all the smaller kids!"

I'll be honest, your example above really doesn't make sense to me. OP asked if it was okay to handicap someone to level the playing field. If someone is good at something, their being talented above the rest of the field might mean that they aren't getting challenged appropriately, but that's certainly not a reason to limit their opportunities to compete or perform until everyone else can perform similarly? There is a difference between "challenging" someone and "handicapping" them, as was the point of this thread. I was a competitive athlete for 15 years, from early elementary all the way to NCAA. Do you know how all the best coaches get their athletes to improve? By critiquing, teaching technique, but most importantly by having them practice and play against the very best. In the interest of creating a stronger team, you'd think it would be more practical to invest in ALL of your players rather than investing in your weaker players and having your stronger players take a break from the action until everyone catches up. You coach across the board. Those that have talent will be winnowed from those that don't. And that's freaking fine, because not everyone is supposed to play youth soccer, or run track, or wrestle, just like not everyone is meant to go on to be chemists, or rocket scientists, or doctors, OR not everyone is meant to go on to be professional singers, or painters, or actors. And that's the beauty of it all. We have strengths. We have weaknesses. In my opinion the sooner those things are identified, the more time you give us to really hone those skills and develop our full potential. Handicapping to make sure everybody is the same is contradictory to that process.
 
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