Lake Wobegon Effect


For those of you outside the United States or those not enlightened enough to listen to The Prairie Home Companion, Lake Wobegon is a fictional town in Minnesota where humorist and social commentator Garrison Keillor supposedly was born. The famous tagline at the start of each vignette is, Lake Wobegon where “the women are strong, the men are good looking, and all the children are above average,” hence the identification of the lake Wobegon Effect. That is precisely where we are today, everyone in not above average. Some people are good at certain skills and tasks and not good at others. Some the mistaken notion has arisen that if we praise mediocre efforts that they will magically become superior efforts. A mediocre effort is a mediocre effort no matter what words you use to describe it. We have raised a whole generation, in fact several generations with an inflated sense of self worth, because the adults have this mistaken notion that we can’t allow kids to fail or be average. How realistic is this? In the search for perfection we have created a dream world where there is no failure. Sports used to the ultimate test, now we give a trophy to everyone, how ridiculous. I was not always the first chosen; in fact many times I was the last chosen, as very late developer, any athletic ability remained well hidden for years. Did that deter me, no way, it drove me. I wanted to play with the big kids, I wanted to make varsity. Let’s get realistic, by not allowing kids to face reality we are setting them up for bigger failures. We must praise effort that warrants praise and correct poor effort. Lake Wobegon is fictional, life is real. Remember without the C students where would the world be?

Discuss entry

Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
RT @GreatestQuotes: Your aspirations are your possibilities. - Samuel Johnson - 4 years ago
Vern Gambetta

Latest posts by Vern Gambetta (see all)