Lindsay Perigo
Lindsay Perigo

The Pursuit Of Anti-Excellence

Much wailing & gnashing of teeth last week about the lack of medal-winnings by New Zealand's Commonwealth Games athletes. I think the wailing & gnashing was very unfair. I think it wholly admirable that our athletes let the others win most of the prizes. I think our athletes are to be commended for their consideration for the feelings of their rivals, putting those feelings ahead of their own selfish aspirations, saving their competitors a lot of expensive counselling & helping them feel good about themselves. I think above all that our athletes showed themselves to be exemplary role models for our youngsters, who, after all, need to be reminded far more often that it's socially unacceptable to stand out from the crowd & make everybody else feel bad.

Now some progress, I admit, is being made in this latter regard — but not nearly enough. It's true that swimming coach Monica Cooper said, not so long ago: "It's almost unbelievable, but I've got kids who are now scared to succeed. As one of them explained to me, it's not cool to stand out, it's cool to be one of the ordinary gang." That was very encouraging, especially since Monica Cooper went on to say that one of her pupils actually stayed away from the Northland Secondary School Championships because "she couldn't face doing well again." Yes, that was very positive indeed. As is the fact that many schools, following the lead from the classrooms, are now dispensing with medals for 1st, 2nd & 3rd places in their sporting events & awarding prizes instead to those who are deemed simply to have made the effort (the latest example of this being Pencarrow Primary School in Petone). This augurs hearteningly well for the prospect of future Olympic & Commonwealth Games failures.

But much more needs to be done. Several New Zealanders let the side down badly by winning gold medals at the last minute. And as for the Australians ... it's one thing not to have hurt their feelings by beating them, but they need to be officially reprimanded for then relishing their success so openly. Who do they think they are? Some token reciprocation should have been mandatory. Ian Thorpe should have been made to wear concrete boots on his size 16 feet, in an equalisation procedure modelled on Kurt Vonnegut's short story, Harrison Bergeron. Future Games organisers should be encouraged to follow the lead of New Zealand schools and put an end to the whole insensitive business of 1st, 2nd & 3rd prizes altogether. All vestiges of the unfair, anti-egalitarian pursuit of excellence should be wiped out. All countries should take a leaf out of New Zealand's book, & enshrine the sacred precept of universal ordinariness in every nook & cranny of their public life. In the meantime, our athletes should be awarded the Order of Neanderton for their services to the promotion of equality & prevention of hurt feelings.

Seriously, the answer to the pervasive, Alliance Retard mediocrity-worshipping whingerism that infests this country more than ever, & of which the low medal count is probably a new manifestation, is to go to its sources: the Ministry of Education, the teachers training colleges, the schools & universities — & privatise the lot. Then we'd see how long their contemptible conformism would last. Of course, parents who actually wanted their children turned into mindless marshmallows would be at perfect liberty to send them to private schools & universities specialising in such outcomes. These latter would have no shortage of potential staff to draw upon, since the current institutions already abound in eminently suitable dissolutes. But somehow I can't see them hacking it in a true free market of educational values.

Unless the Harrison Bergeron world they have succeeded in creating is now irretrievable, and it is indeed mediocrity that will take the gold.

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