Relax, participation trophies aren't responsible for ruining society
There has been little to no research proving the benefits or harm of giving kids participation trophies in sports. So everyone who’s arguing and hating on them, concerned that a tiny piece of plastic will dismantle our society and create a generation that feels entitled to everything, shut up.
The adults are the only ones arguing about this — not the kids.
I’ve talked to kids below the age of 8, all of whom received participation trophies in past sporting activities. When I asked them what they thought it meant to receive a participation trophy, they said that it meant they were a part of something, and they liked it. It made them want to play more, not because it meant they were winners, but because them showing up felt like something important. When I asked them how they would feel if other kids that played the game didn’t get a trophy, all of them said they would feel sad.
One elementary school principal talked about the effect of participation trophies on students, especially those who were more athletically challenged than others. He said that the reaction of the children was incredible, that they wanted to participate more because of it. And quite honestly, isn’t this what we want?
One of the most important lessons that we teach to children is to show up. Woody Allen once said that “80 percent of success is just showing up,” and we continue to see this in nearly all aspects of life. With kids, a participation trophy is simply an incentive for them to be involved in a sport. It’s not about winning or losing — they’ll learn about that everywhere in life.
A participation trophy is simply that: a trophy for participation. It isn’t declaring a winner or a loser. It’s saying, “Thanks for showing up and being a part of this.”
I think we may have forgotten what it’s like to be a kid. Kids aren’t motivated by competition but by recognition.
As adults, are we any different? Even professional athletes who sit on a bench receive a big paycheck or “participation reward” regardless of winning or losing a game. Sure, the winners get to go home with the big trophy, but no one leaves empty handed.
Regardless of whether or not you support participation trophies, it’s about time we the parents stop arguing about them. Is it really as big of a deal as we make it out to be? Just as there are sure to be negatives, there are an equal amount of positives to giving a child a shiny piece of plastic at the end of a game.
They’re probably more excited for the snacks at the end of the game anyways.