Participation Trophies?

So here we go, Suck It Up Buttercup! Not everyone is a winner. When you play a game where they keep score, someone wins and someone loses, almost all the time. Yes, we do see the occasional tie, but in fastpitch softball they are pretty rare.

What is even more rare nowadays? A kid who doesn’t have a trophy or a bunch of trophies even though they never win.

So is this an “old man, get off my lawn, you damn kids” blog. Yes, yes it is!

I have long thought that the idea of participation awards was one of the dumbest things I have ever heard of. The thought that we have created such a soft generation of kids that the mere thought of losing a game was going to send them spiraling into oblivion.

We grew up having to carry to burden of making an error that cost our team a game. We had to face our teammates, or the media, or our parents when we already felt awful for making the mistake that might have cost us the game. And we lived!

We also had the joy of getting the big hit or making the great pitch or catching the last fly ball, the next week or next month or next year. Failing once or, in my case, many times didn’t make us want to quit, it made us want to try harder and work for another chance. We dealt with the setback, dusted ourselves off and went back out to the ball park knowing we would get another chance. Now it still sucked, but it wasn’t fatal.

HBO did a documentary where they took a hard look at the self esteem movement and how it has impacted our kids. Kids no longer need to succeed to get reward they just need to play, period. First place or last place, no biggie!

So what’s the cost? The list is pretty longs but we’ll hit the high points.

Studies show that rewarding kids just for participating has a negative impact. Creating self obsessed, irresponsible and unmotivated kids who are false achievers. At the far end of the spectrum, false self-esteem has been found in bullies and drug addicts, the exact characteristics we thought we were steering kids away from.

Participation trophies set the bar very low. Kids start to think that finishing last is good enough. Which leads to a lack of motivation that can negatively impact many aspects of life.

Giving kids participation trophies stunts their competitive edge and sets them up for failure in the real world.

Parents, you are part of the problem. We all want our kids to be happy, but giving our kids a false sense of self-worth is very problematic. There are many examples of leagues, in the last couple years, trying to get away from participation trophies and found that the parents of the last-place teams were often going out and buying their own trophies to give their kids. They wanted their kids to feel special too!

All our kids are special but they don’t need a trophy to know that. We can tell them we love them, praise them for working hard no matter the outcome of the games, congratulate them for giving it their all and pat them on the back regardless of the score of the game.

We all know that we keep score in the adult world, in one way or another.

We know in the adult world that not every one is a winner.

We know that kids are supposed to learn how to navigate the adult world while they’re kids which is why we sign them up for sports to begin with. Right?