Participation Trophy – Is it a good thing, or not?

Participation Trophy – Is it a good thing, or not?

trophy - Copy

In light of the recent report of Pittsburgh Steelers’ linebacker, James Harrison, announcing that he will make his young sons return their participation trophies, I just had to add my two cents to the topic.

How important is it for each child to receive a trophy just for participating? In my humble opinion, I don’t think it is at all. What does that teach them? As we all know, everything in life can and should be a lesson learned. Especially for young children. So it is important to make sure they get the right message.

When every kid gets a trophy just for showing up, what do they learn? That its fine to just show up and not put in any effort. It takes away the drive to improve oneself.

If I’m going to getting a reward for just showing up, what’s the point of even participating?

A lot of kids that play sports are there because their parents make them play just to fill up their spare time during summer. So for them to get a trophy for just showing up is fine. For these kids, I feel that they grow up just settling for whatever comes along and they never learn to strive to be better at anything.

On the other hand, there are a lot of children that are passionate about the sport they partake in and strive to be the best they can be. They work hard on and off the field and to see their teammates get a reward just for showing up and not putting in any effort can be more devastating than actually losing a game.

Some kids are competitive by nature and enjoy the thrill of not only the game, but being the best that they can be. They work hard at it and always strive to improve. Do they become disappointed if they lose? Of course, some might, but they do get over it and try even harder the next time.

I have three sons who all played youth soccer when they were very young. When they received their first participation trophies at their first end of the season picnic, they were surprised because none of their teams came in first place or even won that many games. My oldest actually seemed embarrassed when he was given the trophy. He even questioned why he got it. Knowing that he wasn’t very good at the sport, even though he enjoyed it, he didn’t feel that he should have gotten a trophy. The younger two were okay with it, but as they got older, the trophies didn’t mean anything to them because they realized that they didn’t earn them.

Kids are really a lot smarter than people give them credit for and they know when they deserve a reward or not. So when everyone gets a trophy just for being on the team, the incentive to work hard and improve is basically taken away. Why should one child work his butt off and try as hard as he can, when everyone will get a trophy whether they tried or not. Why bother?

Sports are supposed to be fun as well as a teaching tool. Some very important lessons that are learned through sports are; cooperation, concentration, coordination and even creativity. These go a long way in life to help a child grow up to be a better person and a contributing member of society.

If you give each child a reward just for being there, how will they learn to strive to be all that they can be? Where is the incentive to compete to improve themselves or learn valuable lessons such as that life is not always easy. If you work hard, play hard, try hard, you will achieve more and be successful in the end.

Where is the motivation to improve and be the best you can? We have to teach our children that they must put in the effort, work hard and do their best they can. Life is not always easy and to just hand a child a reward for being there doesn’t do anything to teach them the importance of self esteem and believing in themselves and their abilities.

Some parents feel that these participation trophies and ribbons help their children by making them feel they’ve achieved something just by trying. I feel that this is false praise. It’s true that some kids may give it their all and still not be able to make the grade. Does that make them losers? No, of course not. It is up to the parents to make these children realize that trying their hardest is the most important thing in life. Not everyone can be a champ, but each child must be taught that by putting forth the effort, that makes them a better person. Winning is not the be all and end all. Sometimes the effort is everything and there is no shame in trying as hard as you can.

Kids today are so spoiled and feel that they have the right to get anything they want without effort. There is very little respect for parents, teachers and authority. In my observations, kids today are given too much of what they want and not what they need.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a restaurant or other public place and see a young child acting up or having a temper tantrum and the parents either can’t seem to, or want to do anything about. They just don’t know how to discipline their kids and let them get away with bad behavior.

We need to go back to the days when a reward is earned and not just handed out for nothing. This helps to build character and a strong self esteem and self worth making us better all around.

I feel that participation is its’ own reward and a trophy, ribbon or plaque should not be a required part of the equation.