Thursday, September 11, 2014

World Challenge XXIII- Heads Up

1. Location
For the first time in our 23+ year history, for the Finals, we will be racing in two locations. The first location, for the Wild Card Eliminations is on 2nd Street in Downtown Phoenix. We have filed for a permit to close the street between Washington and Jefferson for all of the Wild Card eliminations, November 3 through 6.

2. Hotels
We have posted several hotel properties that are providing discounted lodging over the week of 2-10 November. Keep in mind that this is “high season” and between the Cardinals, Coyotes, and the Sprint Cup Championships, lodging will be tight. We are continuing to explore other properties and will make additions as they are confirmed with contracts. Some of the hotels are a short ride away by light rail, with a walking requirement of only a block. 

3. The Big Move
After the close of eliminations on Thursday, we will be packing up and moving to the PIR (Phoenix International Raceway) aka “ZoomTown” in Avondale. We would appreciate some help; a dozen volunteers (no more) to load everything into the trucks for the move. If you’re interested and available, send a note to Ron Beckman by clicking here

4. Helpers
Each day, we’ll start off with the “Valley Throwdown” a competition within in the competition where local fire departments will race on the course, most for the first time. In return for their assistance in resetting the course, they’ll get a first hand view of the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge®. If you want to be a course volunteer or know someone who does, send contact information by clicking here

5. Perry Castellano
We have a very special program for Friday; for the first time there will be a much-needed break in the competition while we’re setting up out at the NASCAR track. Perry Castellano is our featured guest speaker this year. He’s a former firefighter from Pasadena who is now the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Minnesota Twins Major League Baseball team. Perry attended my Certified Fitness Coordinator (CFC) 40-hour course back in early 1990 in San Diego. Since then, he’s earned his undergraduate and master’s degree and was named Strength Coach of the Year by MLB. There will be a special page on our website describing Perry’s accomplishments and his presentation. You will absolutely not want to miss his presentation: “Getting Faster with Less Work; the dangers of over-training.” 

6. Final Days (Saturday & Sunday)
The 55,000 spectators will virtually trip over the Challenge as they enter the park. We’re inside the gate this time. This does present some logistical concerns. First, buses will be provided to transport the athletes to Avondale. So, we will have rallying points and a yet-to-be developed schedule from downtown. There are a number of yet-to-be resolved details that will be posted here on the Official Website of the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge®. What we do know is that we’ll be moving the tandems into Saturday, along with the opening ceremony as Sunday’s window is about four hours; we need to be done before the race starts. I’ve heard from all of you that you want venues with lots of spectators. Be careful of what you wish for. It does complicate things- like parking, rooms, buses, and friends and family. We’re sensitive to these matters. But, in the last year we’ve done a TV show on CBS Sports, two NASCAR events and the Cotton Bowl. 

7. Lion’s Den Induction Dinner
This year’s Lion’s Den will be held Friday evening, on closed 2nd Street, adjacent to the Hard Rock Café. The buffet will start at 1800hrs, (6PM for your officers). 

8. Finalist Flags
These are in process; an unusual delay this year, but we’ll be distributing them to everyone who earned them. 

9. Award Categories
Our protocol states that we need 8 to create a category. We subscribe to the theory that if medals are to have value, you need to earn them by beating someone. Last year, we fell short in the women’s, over 40 and over 50 categories. And then there’s the concern about hybrids, such as team Europe that gave everyone a scare. So, we’re going to create an “Open” or Exhibition category; i.e., in the Department Relay, you must be an organic team; i.e., from the same department. In the “Unlimted” category, you can be whatever you want to be. Someone asked if they could race in the relay category solo. We said, “why would you want to?” Running back to back is not going to be a lot of fun. But, hey, give it a shot. We’re still working on all the permutations. These things tend to have some kind of a life of their own. But, the winner of the Department Relay is the Winner. Period. 

10. Registration
We’ll be opening registration this month. Standard fees apply. There is no charge for those who make it into the last two days. 

11. TV
Fox Sports owns the rights for any video content shot at the Speedway. Since we have a contract with CBS Sports, that is going to create a conflict, so we won't be able to film a show as we did last year. We are exploring Live Feed Transmisison, however, and if we go down that road, it will be free for all viewers.

11. Questions?
This posting is one of several to follow as I’m certain that we’ve not thought of everything. But, if you’ve got a question, we’d like to hear it. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The wasteful fraud of sorting for youth meritocracy

I’m a fan of Seth Godin; here’s an essay that he wrote that I believe we can all relate to:

"Sorry, you didn't make the team. We did the cuts today."
"We did play auditions all day yesterday, and so many people turned out, there just wasn't a role for you. We picked people who were more talented."
"You're on the bench until your skills improve. We want to win."
Ask the well-meaning coaches and teachers running the tryouts and choosing who gets to play, ask them who gets on stage and who gets fast tracked, and they'll explain that life is a meritocracy, and it's essential to teach kids that they're about to enter a world where people get picked based on performance.
Or, they might point out that their job is to win, to put on a great show, to entertain the parents with the best performance they can create.
This, all of this, is sort of dangerous, unhelpful and nonsensical.
As millions head back for another year of school, I'm hoping that parents (and students) can call this out.
When you're six years old and you try out for the hockey team, only two things are going to get you picked ahead of the others: either you're older (it's true, check this out) or you were born with size or speed or some other advantage that wasn't your choice.
And the junior high musical? It's pretty clear that kids are chosen based on appearance or natural singing talent, two things that weren't up to them.
Soccer and football exist in school not because there's a trophy shortage, not because the school benefits from winning. They exist, I think, to create a learning experience. But when we bench people because they're not naturally good, what's the lesson?
If you get ahead for years and years because you got dealt good cards, it's not particularly likely that you will learn that in the real world, achievement is based as much on attitude and effort as it is on natural advantages. In the real world, Nobel prizes and Broadway roles and the senior VP job go to people who have figured out how to care, how to show up, how to be open to new experiences. Our culture is built around connection and charisma and learning and the ability to not quit in precisely the right moments. 
But that's not easy to sort for in school, so we take a shortcut and resort to trivial measures instead.
What if we celebrated the students who regularly try the hardest, help each other the most and lead? What if we fast tracked those students, and made it clear to anyone else willing to adopt those attitudes that they could be celebrated too?
What if you got cast, tracked or made the cut because you were resilient, hard working and willing to set yourself up for a cycle of continuous improvement? Isn't that more important than rewarding the kid who never passes but still scores a lot of goals?
Before you feature a trumpet prodigy at the jazz band concert, perhaps you could feature the kid who just won't quit. No need to tell him he's a great trumpet player--the fact is, none of these kids are Maynard Ferguson--just tell him the truth. Tell him that every single person who has made a career of playing the trumpet (every single one of them) did it with effort and passion, not with lips that naturally vibrate.
We're not spending nearly enough time asking each other: What is School For?
Since I first published Stop Stealing Dreams to the web, it's been shared millions of times. My hope is that as we go back to school, you'll forward this video and this manifesto (screen edition) to every parent and teacher you know. (Here's a printable edition if you want to print it out and hand copies out).
Let's talk about school and figure out what we're trying to create.