Rewarding failure has become an American epidemic

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The proverb is simple: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” But a teenage girl and her mom in New Jersey figured out how to circumvent that difficult “trying” part by whining until success was easily achieved.

At Hanover Park High School last month, a mother complained when her daughter got cut after cheer leading tryouts. Instead of telling her tough luck, the athletic director placated the mom and changed the team’s policy, allowing any wannabe cheerleader to join the squad.

Naturally this upset the kids who made the team fair and square, and they brought their grievances to the school board.

“I did not put in 18 months of work to lead up to this moment just to be told it didn’t matter anymore,” sophomore Jada Alcontara told News12 New Jersey.

Student Stephan Krueger added: “I tried my hardest. Now everything is going away because of one child who did not make the team. Now all my hard work has been thrown out the window.”

Despite its reputation, cheerleading isn’t just about shaking pompoms and yelling catchy chants. Squad members practice gymnastic maneuvers that require strength, flexibility and flair. Now there will be cheerleaders on the team who won’t possess enough of these skills, while those who do have seen their talents devalued.

Giving guaranteed slots to willing participants may make a team seem more inclusive, but it won’t force its members to be. People given an easy pass are unlikely to be met with open arms by those who earned their way.

And what happens to those who are accepted on the basis of “inclusion” rather than merit?

Three years ago New York City’s Fire Department found out after allowing female applicant Choeurlyne Doirin-Holder to fail her way into a $81,000-a-year desk job. Firefighters fumed at the preferential treatment in an online forum. “If you can’t meet the standards, you are a danger to yourself, the public and most importantly everyone operating on the fire ground who is doing their job,” one wrote, according to The Post.

That prediction proved accurate. After just 10 days on the job, Doirin-Holder was injured while inspecting equipment in a station house, stepping off a ladder incorrectly and fracturing her foot.

It’s not just the FDNY that has lowered standards. When some women were unable to pass the fitness test for combat positions in the Marines, one of the most difficult endurance tests for female recruits was removed. And as low levels of unemployment reduced their pool of potential enlistees, the Army started allowing at least 4 percent of those scoring at the bottom third of its aptitude tests into basic training (up from 2 percent). The Army also expanded its waivers for marijuana use, so where once a history of taking pot was disqualifying, it no longer is.

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