It was suggested to me that we as a society feel athletic achievement is a product of hard work, whereas intelligence (and she included wealth) are inherited and can't be changed--either you have it or you don't. It's true our egalitarian tendencies value perspiration over inspiration. And I think that's as it should be, but a full-ride academic scholarship is the product of just as much hard work as a full-ride athletic scholarship, and society doesn't see it that way.
In the end, talent vs. hard work is a fallacious argument--talent plus hard work equals success, not just one or the other. For example, you're not going to convince me that Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods do not have God-given talent in their respective sports. For proof look at Michael's baseball career. I'm sure he worked as hard at that as he did at basketball, but his talent lay in another sport. And you can't say that Sam Walton and Bill Gates have money "only because they inherited it." Besides, this is America--land of the self-made man. Surely we know the difference between potential and success.
This discussion started on the Mensa BrightKids list when one of the mothers said she taught her kids that they should keep their intelligence "low-key" in public and cited as proof that she was right in doing so the Mensa membership pin (scroll down the organization's history), a tiny yellow triangle only recognizable to other Mensa members. Why should Mensa be an underground society? What are they, Masons?
My kids aren't show-offs and I don't take out full-page ads in the newspaper when they do something good, but I also don't believe we should only satisfy our intellectual curiosity in whispers in case someone else overhears us. And it really burns my butt (as you may have noticed!) that my kids are learning that academic achievement isn't worth as much as athletic achievement. And that some intelligent parents of intelligent kids think that that's how things should work. Even the Bible says, "Don't hide your light under a bushel," but that's exactly what we're teaching our kids to do.