I really wish that I could convey this to my students. The idea that there is no first, second, or third. There is only meets expectations or fails. If you don't both learn the material and perform well on the assignments, then you fail regardless (or "irregardless" as many of my students will say) of anyone else's performance. In Ninja Warrior there is no "best" or "top" loser. There are only losers.Perhaps there's something in that old opening day speech about looking to your left and to your right.
The course doesn't care if everyone fails. In some ways, we shouldn't either. If, after repeated practice and guidance, not one student can sloppily perform basic basketweaving tasks 1-5 without help, then they should all fail. But that's not how students understand things. They affirm that if the task was too hard for anyone in the room, then it must have been too hard of a task. It doesn't matter if last year's group could do it or if next year's group won't have a problem doing it.
REALITY SHOWS CAN HAVE STEEP GRADING CURVES. A College Misery poster discovers a game show called Ninja Warrior, which is apparently tougher than American Gladiator, where someone does win at the end, and possibly more capricious than Navy SEAL training.