Creative Leadership

It’s Not Our Policy Rears it’s Ugly Head

Kathleen and I have spent the week in Australia with the Christian Media Association.  It was a great conference and we love these Aussie media folks!  We decided to take a couple of final days off in Sydney after the conference, and got here just in time join the entire city in welcoming Jessica Watson home to Sydney harbor after being the youngest person to sail unassisted and nonstop around the world.  We took the Manley Beach ferry across the harbor and witnessed hundreds of boats turning out to cheer Jessica as she navigated her last leg into the habor.  It was an amazing feat.  HOWEVER – as ABC reports:

“It is unlikely Watson’s attempt will be officially recorded because the UK-based World Speed Sailing Racing Council doesn’t record efforts made by those under 18 years of age.”

Can you believe this?  A heroic young woman sails around the world by herself, but it likely won’t be recorded because the official association that governs these things has a policy for not recording efforts by those under 18 years old.

“It’s not our policy.”  It’s not just destroying your organization, it’s destroying the world…

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  1. A few years back, an 11 year old girl was supposed to fly across the US to set a new age record for the youngest person to pilot an aircraft that distance.  Her father, a private pilot, was with her; he handled the take offs and landings, she did the flying once airborne.

    And guess what?  While she was piloting the aircraft, they crashed and were both killed!  The Guiness Book of World Records subsequently announced they were no longer going to record stunts, endurance records, etc., done by minors.

    The World Speed Racing Council is doing a stand up, moral, ethical thing here.  They’re acting like adults.  Did this girl do something remarkable?  Yeah, way beyond my skill level.  Who benefited from it?  She did.  Alone.  It’s not like she raced into a burning building to rescue someone, or jumped in a river to pull a drowning person out, or got a neighborhood committee together to clean up the mess in the alley.

    So is this experience supposed to make her a better person, give her insight in the human condition, inspire others to go out and emulate her?

    She sailed a very expensive boat all the way around the world by herself, with a very extensive support team sponsored by people who are going to make money off of publicizing this.  She is a person of privilege showing off.  That’s a stunt.  She’s no different from Johnny Knoxville & the lads on “Jackass”. 

  2. Oh, you were in Australia! I’m glad you had a good time here. You were on the opposite side of the country to us of course (I’m in Perth) but still, glad you had a nice time. What an annoying thing that Jessica won’t be recorded. Aussies won’t care, we are so proud of her. The funny thing is, when she first sailed off a lot of Aussies spent time pulling her down and critisizing her, saying she wouldn’t make it. That annoyed me, we have ‘tall poppy syndrome’ here in Australia. We hate it when people are confident in themselves…..unless it makes us look good! Anyway, we are proud of her no matter what.

  3. I’m with Buzz on this one. There’s nothing “heroic” about a publicity stunt. And there’s nothing wrong with an organization having policies in place to discourage what they consider to be irresponsible behavior. Further, if someone was aware of a policy and chose to violate it anyway, they have no place to bellyache about it afterwards.

  4. Publicity stunt or not, world class support team or not, wealthy or not… in a day when too many teens are “guitar heroes” and sit on the butts all day, it is refreshing to see one who gets up and takes great risk and adventure. She should be honored and the association should get out of their pompous desk chairs and give her a standing ovation.

  5. So once you turn the “magical” age of 18 it legitimate, and suddenly its no longer an irresponsible publicity stunt? As for what Buzz said about her not pulling someone from a burning building, on that note, why do people consider some athletes to be hereoes. After all one could say that football is just a bunch of knuckelheads running around a field. There are people who consider events like sailing to be just as much a sport, and the sailors just as much “heroic” athletes as someone in football, baseball, etc. For some, its also the nostalgia of the old sailing days of exploration, new lands, and discovering whats over the next horizon. I personally don’t consider it a “heroic” feat, but if someone (regardless of age, ethnicity, or gender) does something that few people have done, then their deed or record should be recorded.

  6. Its better that she has some decent goals than getting into the wrong things, we lose more teens to drugs than world record attempts…and the goverment allows them to buy the needles in pharmacies.  Perhaps they should think about that.

  7. Thanks Mom and Steve, well stated.

    Remember now, it is not correct to reward a child for such achievements, it can harm other childerens self esteem. It’s all part of not having grades or keeping score. It’s about not playing tag because someone will be “it” more than the others. We’re raising a generation of underachievers. Why try if everybody gets a trophy?

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