I seem to be obsessing about the copy writing on packaging lately. I’m not sure why, but bear with me–I’m sure this too, shall pass.
This photo shows a box of tasty Girl Guide (or should that be ‘Girl Guides’?) cookies that I recently bought. On the box, they prominently feature text that reads “No tryouts. No cuts. No competition. It’s the
great greatest team she’ll ever join.”:
This text reflects an ongoing trend (I wrote about it previously) toward reducing or eliminating competition among children. I often hear members of Generation Y–the early beneficiaries of this trend–characterized as being superb collaborators and team members, but under-motivated in the face of competition.
Of course, these are just enormous generalizations that make demographers and marketers happy, but I could see a correlation there. I really know nothing about child development and psychology, so I just point out this Girl Guide box as a sign o’ the times.
On a vaguely related topic, I’ve been enjoying reading this discussion of parenthood on Jen’s blog.
I think that perhaps the bad copy on the box is because you have somehow landed yourself some grey-market Girl Guide cookies. Did you buy them from eBay or Craigslist??
The example above aside, I personally think this is a bit of an irksome trend, especially among youth sports. What’s wrong with a little healthy competition? *wink*
I think there’s more to be learned by competing in a sportsmanlike fashion, rather than removing the competitive elements in youth sports, etc.
I understand the Girl Guides’ intentions of being inclusive, yet it wouldn’t surprise me if the race for most boxes of cookies sold was a hotly contested one.
Jordan: You make a good point. It was twenty-five years ago, but I happen to know somebody who won a prize for selling the most cookies in her troop, or neighbourhood, or some such thing.
Darren, was that me?
Anyway, Guiding isn’t against competition. But what they’re talking about is that so many children’s activities lead to disruption of social life simply because you weren’t good enough for whatever level of swimming, soccer, dance, etc. Guiding certainly offers opportunities for personal excellence and leadership, but it does so in an environment where everyone has a chance to do their personal best without having to only hang out with people at their level.
Not every kid is great at sports, dance, acting or whatever. Back in the day, you could still go play scrub, street hockey, dolls, whatever. But kids don’t just play out on the street anymore. If you don’t make the cut for whatever organized activity, you’ve got to rebuild your social life. Moreover, outside of Guiding and Scouting, you have to have niche interests, not something broad-based. That’s what the copy is getting at.
(But they do have competition. It’s just not about social exclusion.)
In my experience, kids will make up their own competitions regardless of outside influences. If our daughters would stop making every little thing in our house a contest (ZOMG! She found two pennies and a nickel to squish on the train tracks and I only got a dime and a penny! She got an extra coin! It’s not FAIR!), things might be a bit more peaceful around here.
I hated competitive sports as a kid (yeah, I was one of those chubby ones who got picked last for the teams), so I’m perfectly glad that the organized activities they’re in — swimming, yoga, piano, Brownies and Guides for awhile, even taekwondo for a few weeks — don’t emphasize the contest over everything else.
A bit off topic, but the picture contains a corner of the nutrition label, so I have an in! 🙂
I hadn’t been aware of the trend away from competition (and my school experience was similar to Derek’s, so m’eh). But I was quite surprised the Canadian Girl Guides are tardy getting out the transfat: http://www.cbc.ca/health/fitness-blog/2007/01/girl_guide_cookies_trans_fat_h.html
They aren’t disputing the data about transfat, they’re worried about their profits. Nice. I wonder if they offer a business ethics badge 🙂
Alfie Kohn has written a lot on this topic. Check out his site to read some of his articles, and excerpts from his books, including these…
No Contest: The Case Against Competition
Fun and Fitness Without Competition
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