By giving a child a participation trophy, we try to fill the emptiness of his/her self -esteem with an even emptier and meaningless piece of plastic. Kids feel as if they have the leisure to slack off in their sports, as they know the end result will be a trophy for their participation, whether they fulfilled their responsibility or not.  

Some feel like the trophies diminish self-worth and confidence. If children who did not participate fully are receiving the same trophy as those who did participate, it will make the players feel less accomplished and skilled.

Participation trophies often set false pretenses for children playing sports. If children become accustomed to receiving trophies even if they did not participate and contribute to the team, they will expect this type of treatment in the future, therefore, affecting the future of our  country. Recipients of participation trophies may feel as if they can work on their own time, and do what they want, and expect to be praised or to receive a promotion.
There is no participation award for life. No one is going to simply hand you the life you want. It is necessary to work hard to get the rewards you desire.

Coaches have even started using trophies as a method to get children to keep playing sports, as per a CNN article titled, “Does Participation Deserve a Trophy?” If children are playing sports merely for a plastic participation award, are they really learning the true meanings behind the sport? Or do they only get a sense of accomplishment from a generic trophy? According to a Mercury News Article, “Should Kids Get Trophies for Participation?” USA Today has said that by giving children trophies we tell them that we disregard improvement. This can often times lead to issues in the child’s mindset in their adult lives. The article states, “When you’re constantly giving a kid a trophy for everything they’re doing, you’re saying, ‘I don’t care about improvement. I don’t care that you’re learning from your mistakes. All we expect is that you’re always a winner.’”

                By engraining these thoughts into a child, they will feel like they can accomplish their goals without valuable mistakes, which they could learn valuable lessons from. The main goals of these people are to please the coaches. By awarding every child in the team, we are unable to praise those who did contribute to the team fairly.

Parents are among the biggest culprits when it comes to giving kids an inflated sense of self-worth in sports, as said in a Men’s Journal article: “How Participation Trophies are Making our Kids Soft.” Children are not receiving the credit that they deserve for their work, making their enjoyment for the sport quickly diminish. It is time of us to decide whether we would like to give credit to those who do not participate to work harder towards achieving their goals, or to let go of strong and skilled players who truly do enjoy the game. According to the Men’s Journal, “Awarding medals and trophies for participation sets the bar very low, according to experts. Trophies make kids feel like finishing in last place may be good enough.”  

We are rapidly lowering a child’s self-expectations by awarding them for things they did not achieve. We are setting kids up for attitudes of entitlement in their future. By giving trophies to everyone, regardless of outcome in their games, we strip their desire to compete and achieve.

A trophy signifies that participants put in the hard work and actually did achieve a common goal. To give trophies to everyone would diminish the trophy-power for the child. According to Huffington Post article, “Only Winners Should Receive Participation Trophies,” “We live in a ‘participation trophy’ world now unfortunately.” However, the most important issue isn’t the praise children are given without accomplishment. Rather, the bigger problem is what society considers an “accomplishment.” If children are accepting last place to be good enough of an accomplishment we put all effort of the child to work harder to a halt.

The child will now be pleased with being just, average; instead of working hard to improve on his or her skills, not just in sports; but in life.

“You don’t learn from successes; you don’t learn from awards; you don’t learn from celebrity; you only learn from wounds and scars and mistakes and failures. And that’s the truth.” ~Jane Fonda.

 In life we can only learn from the mistakes we make. We must have motive to drive us to success.  However, by awarding children for no particular reason, we overlook these needs and replace them with a gilded trophy that looks perfect on the outside, but that on the inside is hollow, cold, and slowly destroying the self-esteem of our population.

photo credit: sisterhoodofthesensiblemoms