I’m not a big fan of participation trophies…I don’t like the idea that you get a trophy for just showing up. To me, trophies should be about accomplishments, not rewards that have no real meaning. Participation trophies, while making everyone “feel good, ” send a message to our kids that I find a bit conflicting with the reality of life, and this is why.
Participation CAN be just about having fun and building skills. Since when do kids need a trophy to feel good about themselves? Whatever happened to just having fun for the sake of having fun? When kids first start playing organized team sports, it should be about having a good time, learning new skills and teaching sportsmanship and other important life lessons. Let the kids have fun and simply learn how to play the game. Have a team party at the end of the season and call it a day. There’s no need for trophies.
Success is never guaranteed. As the kids get a little older, we’re doing them a disservice when we pretend there is no winner. Ask anyone who’s coached youth sports and they’ll tell you, the kids keep score anyway. Why are we so worried about competition? Because our kids might not win? Who cares?! Teaching kids how to lose gracefully is just as important as learning how to win graciously, and it’s easier to learn this at a younger age than an older one. In life, things don’t always go your way. The sooner kids learn how to roll with life’s disappointments, the better off they will be in the long run!
Trophies should be a reward for an accomplishment. Winning at young ages means absolutely nothing. Everyone develops their skills at a different rate, and a kid that is really good at a sport at age 6 won’t necessarily be as good at age 12 or 16. Yes, as they get older and play at higher levels, winning does become more important and that’s fine. To me, once the kids have developed real skill, that’s when trophies come into play…for accomplishments! When we acknowledge everyone equally for participating, we aren’t acknowledging those that put in extra time and worked extra hard…and we’re sending the message that hard work isn’t valued! Sports are about competition. Competition is not a bad thing!
I realize to some this may sound a little overboard. But I never want my kids to feel entitled to an award just because they participated. I want them to feel that sense of accomplishment that comes from working really hard to earn an award. And if they never earned a trophy, it wouldn’t bother me one bit. It’s OK to just do something for enjoyment!
How do you feel about participation trophies?