WASHINGTON—In a stunning reversal of more than 200 years of conventional wisdom, failure—traditionally believed to be an unacceptable outcome for a wide range of tasks and goals—is now increasingly seen as a viable alternative to success, sources confirmed Tuesday.

"Americans have always been told that they should succeed at all costs," Emory University sociologist Dr. Lauren Hodge said. "But based on new evidence, this can no longer be called true—if, in fact, it ever was. As failure continues to dominate the American landscape, this mantra must be overruled."

"We have no choice but to revoke failure's non-optional status, effective immediately," Hodge continued. "Now all citizens will be able to step back, stare down the hardship and difficulty they will face in the pursuit of success, and say, 'Fuck that—this isn't worth it.'"

Overturning one of America's most cherished and oft-repeated aphorisms is expected to have far-reaching implications for the future of human ambition. Some predict that a majority of the U.S. populace will now opt out of its previous obligation to give it 110 percent, and, in the coming weeks and months, give as little as 45 percent. For underachieving Americans, that number is expected to drop to as low as 5 percent by March.

A recent Interior Department report found that, although failure was not officially an option until this Tuesday, there have in fact been hundreds of billions of cases of it over the past two centuries, culminating in Fort Collins, CO high school junior Tim Kemp's failing grade on a physics exam last month.

Many scholars now believe that such failures have historically been obscured by optimistic slogans and so-called positive thinking, neither of which, according to the report, has had a verifiable effect: Americans' overall failure rate went up nearly 2,350 percent over the past decade, with 1,435,643 instances of failure reported last Sunday alone.

"In retrospect, failure becoming an option was inevitable," historian Michael Lambeau said. "The only difference is that now Americans can choose, without fear of being ostracized by society, to quit long before getting ahead."

Lambeau predicted a substantial decrease in the number of everyday Americans who fear failure, and a dramatic rise in those who actually embrace the once-reviled stench of defeat and disappointment.

Other data seem to confirm the Interior Department's findings. A recent CBS News/New York Times poll revealed that 64 percent of Americans are "perfectly comfortable" with coming up just short, 43 percent are content to try only once rather than try, try again, and an overwhelming 95 percent admitted that after falling down, they now prefer to stay down.

Only 4 percent indicated having "some interest" in applying their balls to the wall.

Though the broad new trend touches all 300 million citizens, experts said that sports coaches, CEOs of large corporations, U.S. Army commanders overseeing large-scale military operations, and anyone who often starts sentences with the word "gentlemen" will be most affected.

While the ability to openly fail without detrimental consequence has been embraced by a majority of the population, some, such as social anthropologist Dr. Richard Groaten, claim it will have negative long-term effects for the country.

"Sixty years ago, even mentioning that you might willingly give it less than your all would have been unthinkable," Groaten said. "It's a disgrace that modern Americans are more inclined to simply not get going, especially when the said going could be classified as 'tough.'"

"I don't feel like doing this interview anymore," Groaten added.