Telling a kid to suck it up and work harder is too “harsh”

Stories like this one drive me insane.

Here’s the deal. A sophomore at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines was benched from the wrestling team following his failure of an advanced algebra class. He wrote an e-mail to the school board protesting, and received three e-mails back. One of those three e-mails offended his poor little mommy’s sensibilities, because he used “harsh” language. The harsh language? Well, read the two e-mails for yourself.

Here is sophomore Craig Richman’s e-mail:

Dear School Board,

I am sending you a message about my eligibility for sports, and how I disagree with the rule. (Mainly to see if I can do anything about this, so I could change it.)

First to start things off, I want to tell you that I failed my algebra 2 class second semester last school year (Because of this I am now ineligible for 6 weeks for the next sport I play.). I also want to state that I am only a sophomore at Roosevelt high school this year.

Now I would like to explain what I disagree with about the 6 week rule. I honestly don’t think it’s fair that I have to sit out for some of my wrestling season for “challenging myself.”

Last year as a freshman I was taking algebra 2. (A junior grade level math class) I had already received my freshman and sophomore years worth of math credits in middle school. So I am advanced in math. I believe if you say I have to still sit for wrestling season for failing a 2 year advanced class ( That I am retaking this year), then you apparently don’t care that much about the education of kids, because then I’ll take this as you pretty much saying that you don’t want kids to challenge themselves. Now is this true? I honestly hope not since you are the school board but, if I still sit for wrestling season, then ill think way more poorly of the school system.

I would completely understand sitting and not getting the
privilege to wrestle for 6 weeks, if the class I failed wasn’t an advanced class that I was taking to challenge my self. (Do you honestly think it’s fair that I am punished for not understanding the materials in an advanced class?) Also I don’t think this is not fair that I sit because I also never decided to take advanced math (The school did.). When I went to middle school they automatically placed me in a higher math class. I thought about getting that changed, but after discussing this with my mom back in middle school, we thought that this could be good to take advance math, and that no harm could come out of it. But were we wrong?

Wrestling is very important to me, and my season begins next week on Monday. So I hope you read and put some thought in this and email me back quickly. So I know if I can change it so I am able to wrestle all season.

Craig Thomas Richman
Apparently, the kid isn’t doing too great in English either.

Now, here’s school board member Jonathan Narcisse’s e-mail:


Look in the mirror. This is a good rule. Perhaps it isn’t tough enough. You are a student athlete and your first priority needs to be your academics.

Playing sports is a privilege not a right.

If you were to become a pro athlete your playing days are numbered. If you expect to be a college athlete your eligibility will be directly linked to your academics.

And if your sports career ends in high school your academic success is even more important.

I played tennis and wrestled in high school. Boxed afterwards. You need to ask yourself what you need to do to be a better student. Life isn’t fair. The world isn’t fair. What if you were able to compete and suffered a devastating injury. What favor would we have done you?

No, instead of complaining about the tough rules, which by the way apply to everyone, you need to suck it up, ask what help you can get to be a better student and then focus on more than meeting the minimum but ask what can you do to truly excel in the classroom.

I remember this great athlete in high school names Randy. The adults let him slide by. Last time I saw him he was at the Git N Go gas station on Keo asking customers for money for wine and offering blow jobs for money. It was very sad because he had world class athletic talent. So much so that no one told him what I’m telling you now.

He didn’t make it in college because they didn’t let him slide and now his life is a shambles.

Robert Johnson, the first freshmen to ever start basketball in the Metro, had all these adults falling all over him. For four years he slid by. Then when he got to Iowa State he couldn’t cut it. Period. And all that God given talent was wasted and none of the adults that made it easy for him rescued him once he failed.

So suck it up man. Hit the books. Work out and stay in shape and don’t make the same mistake ever again.

This may seem like tough love but it’s the best advice you could get in this matter.

Jonathan Narcisse
School Board Member
He referenced oral sex, which has Craig’s mommy up in arms. Craig himself is more angry that he was told to “suck it up” and that “life isn’t fair”. Oh, the horrors.

Richman’s parents feel Narcisse’s 11-paragraph e-mail was unnecessarily harsh. But they are more upset with a story Narcisse shared with the teen about an athlete who hadn’t focused enough on his academics and was last seen at a convenience store “asking customers for money for wine and offering (oral sex) for money.”

Kim Richman, Craig’s mother, said the e-mail was offensive and demeaning.

“It was not something you should be getting from somebody who you should consider a role model, somebody who is on the school board,” she said.

Her husband, Tom, agreed: “The analogies are inappropriate, especially when he’s writing back to a high school student.”

Kim Richman said she plans to express her concerns about Narcisse’s e-mail to him and other school officials.

Narcisse on Monday stood by the e-mail and said that the teen had heard worse language in the locker room at school. He said the teen needed to be told he had to work harder in order to be a better student.

“If I hurt his parents’ feelings and his feelings, tough,” Narcisse said. “I’m telling him what his parents should have told him.”

Craig Richman said Narcisse’s sexual reference made him a little uncomfortable, but he was more upset with Narcisse’s lack of help on the issue and telling him “life isn’t fair” and to “suck it up.”

“He shouldn’t be saying things like that,” Craig Richman said. “He’s on the school board and is supposed to be a role model and give words of encouragement.”
So that’s the whole sordid story.

And you know what? I am 100% on Jonathan Narcisse’s side. Not only am I on his side, but I think someone needs to knock some common sense into the kid’s parents. What kind of upbringing must he have had to think that “life isn’t fair” is a harsh lesson to learn? Good grief.

If you’re wondering why American teenagers have overinflated egos with little accomplishments to back it up, well, here’s example number one.

And of course, Narcisse should not have referenced oral sex. It was extremely unprofessional. But let’s get real here. We inundate kids with sex ed, oftentimes graphic sex ed, and let teenage boys read Maxim and Playboy and watch MTV. This isn’t exactly Victorian London, OK? You’d think the fact that the poor little child’s sensibilities weren’t disturbed at the mention of oral sex, just at the advice to work harder, would be telling you something. It was a poor choice of analogy, but he should still stand by what he said because it was good advice.

We teach kids so often these days that we’re all winners! and that everyone gets a gold star and all kinds of nauseating crap like that. Children today quite obviously have an entitlement complex… much like the rest of the country, actually. Working hard for the privilege to play sports never occured to this kid, did it? No, he just thought he was entitled to play.

To participate in sports and school events when I was in high school, you had to have a 3.0 GPA. The spring semester of my sophomore year, I was not doing well in school. My freshman year I had a pretty decent GPA, but I had transferred to a public school from a Catholic school, and it was ridiculously easier than what I was used to. So I slacked off, and my grades dropped. Therefore, the activities I wanted to participate in were now unavailable to me. So I spent the spring semester working my ass off to get my GPA high enough so that, in my junior year, I’d be able to do everything I wanted to do. My parents certainly didn’t help any or complain to the school board. I distinctly remember my mom being very unsympathetic and telling me that I got myself into the situation and I could get myself out. Sure, she’d help me study or with homework if I needed it, but she didn’t make any excuses for me or tell me that it wasn’t my fault.

Apparently, this approach is inconceivable to this kid and his parents, and a lot of parents around the country. Too many parents think their darling little angel never does anything wrong, and if his GPA suffers, or he broke some rule, well, the school should just look the other way for their little sugar-filled sweetykins. It’s ridiculous. Rushing in to rescue your kid every time they get thrown a hardball is not only bad parenting, but it doesn’t actually help out the kid. The day will come when Craig, and kids like him, will grow up and realize that everything in life is not handed to them on a silver platter; that they can’t just send an e-mail demanding that they get their way. And how will they be able to handle that when that day comes if their parents and teachers have babied them their entire lives while simultaneously telling them how great and wonderful they are? It’s a recipe for disaster.

And a man who tried to help this kid, to give him some very, very good advice is now getting punished for it. And for what its worth, someone in the comments pointed out that the class Richman was taking and complained about is actually not an AP course; it’s a general math course required to pass high school. Apparently he just chose to take it early, but it is still required for graduation, which kind of changes things a little, doesn’t it? It’s just another lesson this kid needs to learn. Kudos for trying to challenge yourself and all, but taking risks is exactly that: risky. Regardless of how brilliant your mommy says you are, the outcome may not be exactly what you want it to be, and part of challenging yourself is acknowledging what may happen if you try and fail.

The really sad, scary thing is that these are the people who will be running our country in the near future.

What happened to the original American dream? It used to be that you could accomplish anything, be anything, do anything, if you were willing to work hard enough for it. If you fail, try again. Try harder. Don’t give up, keep working. Be resilient. And now what is it? If something doesn’t go your way, whine and complain until you get what you want?

What are we doing to the youth of America?

Hat Tip: Rachel Lucas

Sticks and Stones
Seriously Questionable Timing