Why Participation Awards Are a Problem Trophies used to be something only presented on special occasions. Only the winner of the Olympic games in ancient Greece would receive a trophy. The word trophy comes from the French word tropee, which means a prize of war and in Latin it means, a monument of victory. The word trophy now-a-days is defined by, something you receive when you stand in victory, most often in a sporting event. Starting in the 1960’s trophies began to be mass-produced and given to teachers, coaches, and sold at sporting goods stores.
Trophies began to be manufactured for less money, thus leading to the mass production of awards such as plastic trophies. From rare symbols of victory and hard work, to plastic looking dolls or shapes that sit on shelves, trophies are being given out for the wrong purpose and because of this, trophies have lost the value of what they used to be. This is where participation awards started to be produced and given out to anyone who simply participates. From a reward from winning a battle, to a reward for showing up and playing a sport.
Giving participation awards for playing sports is a problem. Kids should not be given participation awards no matter the age; it gives them false hope. It is almost like the kids are being teased. If a kid grows up receiving participation awards, and then they hit that magical age where they don’t get a participation award anymore, the kid is most likely going to question why they didn’t get an award that season. They can make or break a kid’s decision to carry on with sports later on in life.
If we got rid of participation awards early in a kid’s life, they would understand as early as possible that they have to try their hardest and give it everything they have to win so that they can receive a trophy. Parents and coaches shouldn’t give participation awards because it is showing kids that even though if you don’t win, or you don’t try your hardest you can still receive a trophy. Children don’t get credit and pass through school by just showing up and sitting in class all day and doing nothing, so why give awards in sports for just showing up?
Participation awards have a negative impact on the owner besides false hope; they reward the child for losing. Losing is necessary throughout children’s lives. Although no one likes losing it shows the kids how to deal with lost. This is an essential tool for later on in life. Throughout life there is going to be more lost and hard times than good times, so learning how to deal with lost and hard times at a young age through sports is important for kids. Participation awards are overvalued in our society, and the effects of them can cause children to become complacent and under-value work ethic.
Losing is needed and will show more beneficial outcomes than participation awards. Participation awards give kids incentive to not play to the best of their abilities and still receive praise and a trophy. If we got rid of participation awards, kids would understand that they have to play and try their hardest and because of that if they win, they will receive an award. James Harrison, an NFL veteran linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, agrees with this statement completely. Harrison showed everyone what he thought of participation awards after his kid’s brought home a pair of them one night.
He hasn’t only returned them, he made it public. This is what his Instagram post reads (photo of the two trophies was attached)”… While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them till the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy. I’m sorry I’m not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned and I’m not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best… He understands that you should try your best and then if that makes you successful then, you should receive a trophy. Po Bronson, an American journalist says, “Awards can be powerful motivations, but nonstop recognition does not inspire children to succeed. Instead, it can cause them to underachieve. ” (Merryman) If a kid knows that he is going to receive an award if his team wins, or he performs to the best of his abilities, then it is going to give him motivation to play as hard as he can. But along with that comes the complacency.
If a child is succeeding in his or her sport, and they keep receiving uncontrollable praise, then they might start showing signs of underachievement during the games and practices. When a child starts underachieving, it is because they think they don’t have to try as hard because they are already the best kid on the team. Participation awards can do the same thing for a kid. If the kid believes that they are trying their best and their parents are giving them nonstop praise and they keep receiving participation trophies, they are going to start to build up that cockiness which will then cause them to start underachieving.
The performance on the sports field is not only effected, in can also affect their home life. Studies have shown that “Children whose parents overvalued them were more likely to develop narcissistic traits, such as superiority and entitlement. ” (Merryman) In this quote, Ashley Merryman, an author of the New York Times states that parents who have a glorified attitude of their children in the household directly translates into negative behavior to the children. This can be caused because the parents are overlooking the negative parts of the child’s life.
When kid’s go through the process of maturing, they are going to experience negative patches and loss, but they are not going to know how to handle it. The results of this can translate into the sports field also. If a child is not stable with loss in his life, then when he or she experiences a hard loss in sports, the child is not going to know how to deal with it, and this can cause a poor sport and or a sore loser. Losing is an important value that is needed throughout growing up and in life; by giving participation awards that value isn’t being taught.
The results of giving participation awards can and will cause negative outcomes throughout children’s lives; finding a solution will only produce beneficial results. Finding a solution to not giving participation awards is difficult, but it is needed. If given a participation award while they are young, the kids will not learn to try their hardest. Why would they? They don’t have to try, they don’t have to sweat, they don’t have to give any effort, and they still get a trophy. One solution is not giving participation awards, and only giving awards for winning.
Doing this will give children motivation to compete to the best of their ability. Trophies would then return to the once rare thing they used to be and not be overused. Another solution is that instead of giving trophies for winning, players receive trophies for their sole performance. Dr. Jonathan Fader, a New York City Psychologist says, “What are we reinforcing kids for? We should be reinforcing our kids for their effort in their performance not for winning. It sends the wrong message. “(“Should We Give Our Kids Participation Trophies? ) Instead of giving trophies out for winning we should be giving it out for the kid’s performance in a single game or at the end of the season. An example of this could be at the beginning of the season the coach could have a meeting with all of the team members and their parents and say at the end of each game, or at the end of the season, I am going to give out these awards. Some of these awards could include, the hardest worker, best teammate, MVP, etc. If the coach were to give these awards out at the end of each game, it would give the players something to play for, something to push for.
Although these solutions could help kids try harder and not be satisfied with being average, the trend of participation awards is still present. While those solutions could stop with the awards in general, it is not going to solve the problem completely. Parents and coaches could aim for giving awards based off of performance, but it would only make the kid’s work hard on those few things that the coach would give an award for. Another example of why this might not work is simply because the hardest worker or the best teammate could be the worst player on the team.
That kid could get a trophy for being the worst kid on the team but being the hardest worker or best improved, while the best kid on the team, the kid that is going to continue to play that sport at a higher level gets nothing. Children should only receive a trophy if you win, or you are the best in that area of sports. Doing this gives kids’ motivation. When a kid watches his best friend receive a trophy for being the MVP of his league or his team, he/or she are most likely either going to become jealous and want to work harder to get better, or is going to be happy for their best friend.
It is a winwin situation. People can say it doesn’t matter if you are the best at your sport, or it doesn’t matter if you win or lose; But if it doesn’t matter if you win or you lose, then why do they keep score? Why do they keep stats? It does matter, and participation awards display the opposite message. Parents and the coaches need to help children overcome failure and defeat in sports and in life. With the help of their parents and coaches, kids need to improve and learn to accept loss.
In order to do this, participation awards need to end. Eliminating the meaningless plastic statues, will show kid’s how to lose. Losing shows kid’s how to deal with failure in their life. This is a very important mindset for the kid’s when they go through the journey of life. With awards no one loses, so how are children going to know how to deal with losing for the first time? There is no better place than when they are playing sports, and while they are young. Sports can teach us real life lessons in a way that nothing else can.
But this lesson cannot be learned if our kids are not trying their hardest or if they can’t accept loss. Participation awards need to end. Children need to learn that they have to earn a reward; they need to work for it and perform to the best of their abilities. Without participation awards, these issues will be solved. Many of our kid’s will have character traits that are needed in life, which causes them to be successful throughout their entire life. Participation awards affect more than sports; they affect the future of our children.