by David McElroy
Tyler Weaver loves to read. The 9-year-old in Hudson Falls, N.Y., has been entering his local library’s summer reading contest for years. In fact, he’s been the winner of the reading contest for five years now, reading 373 books along the way.
In any rational universe, Tyler would be celebrated and encouraged. Instead, the director of the local library wants to change the rules of the contest. She wants to draw a random name out of a hat instead of allowing a child’s work and merit to determine the winner.
Tyler comes from a reading family. His 7-year-old brother, Jonathan, has taken second place for two years running now. Their mother, Katie, is proud of Tyler and Jonathan.
“I’ve told them God makes all of us different. There are some things that are hard and some that are easy, but they should excel at what they enjoy doing and Tyler just loves to read,” she told the local newspaper. “Everybody he tells, he gets high-fives. Everybody’s so proud of him.”
In most places, libraries and schools contact community newspapers to publicize the winners of such contests, but Katie Weaver contacted the newspaper herself to have the news printed because the library didn’t. When the newspaper contacted library director Marie Gandron, she whined that Tyleer “hogs” the contest each year and that he should “step aside” so that someone else can win.
“Other kids quit because they can’t keep up,” Gandron told the paper.
Gandron then told the reporter that she wanted to change the rules so that winners were drawn at random instead of awarded based on merit, but she said she can’t do that now that Weaver had contacted the newspaper.
Just what is it about merit that bothers some people so badly? Gandron told the newspaper that she has an “attitude” about the contest because one young girl lied about how many books she had read one time — and the girl’s mother backed up her lie.
That shouldn’t be an issue now, because children are required to answer random questions about the books they read before they can get credit for them.
Tyler says he’s a little angry about the entire situation.
“If they end up where a librarian would pick out a name from a hat … she might only read one slip and then (that child) would be picked out. He didn’t put enough effort in and he won. It’s not fair,” he said. “How would it even be a contest if you just picked a name out of a hat?”
Maybe Tyler should start understanding that some people in this country today don’t want competition. Some people want everyone to be given awards and recognition just for showing up. Is it any wonder that so many children these days get to college and want grades given to them and then are surprised to reach the work world and find that they’re expected to produce?
Competition is good. Recognizing winners is good. Wanting to win is good, and being willing to put in the effort to win is even better. A country that tries to reduce the competitive spirit among children is laying the foundation for destroying the competitiveness of the entire nation.
This sort of nonsense has been going on for decades and it’s getting worse. It’s time to encourage competition, not squelch it because some people are better than others in certain areas. We need to celebrate talent, effort and winners.
We need more like Tyler, not more like whatever name is randomly selected from a hat.
Note: Thanks to Vinstagram for linking to a version of this story, which is where I found out about it.