A number of Boston private schools no longer give academic prizes and honors “to keep those who don’t get them from feeling bad,” writes Concord Review creator Will Fitzhugh. However, these schools haven’t stopped keeping score in games or honoring elite athletes. It’s OK to excel in sports.
The Boston Globe devotes about 150 pages a year to covering high school sports and one page a year to naming valedictorians at public high schools, he writes.
“We are comfortable encouraging, supporting, seeking and celebrating elite performance in high school sports,” writes Fitzhugh. “We seem shy, embarrassed, reluctant, ashamed, and even afraid to encourage, support, and acknowledge — much less celebrate —outstanding academic work by high school students.”
When [mid-20th century] I was in a private school in Northern California, I won a “gold” medal for first place in a track meet of the Private School Conference of Northern California for the high jump [5’6”] — which I thought was pretty high.
My “peers” in the Bay Area public high schools at the time were already clearing 6 feet, but I was, in fact, not in their league.
. . . The current boys high school record, set in July 2002, by Andra Manson of Kingston, Jamaica, at a high school in Brenham, Texas, is 7 feet, 7 inches. [high jump, not pole vault].
Knowing that the record was moving up, a large group of high school athletes was motivated to work harder and jump higher, Fitzhugh concludes.