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Have Your Say: Should Kids Get a Participation Trophy?

Theoretically, most people would rather win a championship trophy than not.  In a world where there is only one winner, what do we do about everyone else that participated all season? Is there anything inherently bad with awarding a trophy for participation?

People from politicians to Kobe Bryant have weighed in on the topic. And just recently, a youth baseball association in Maryland made it clear to parents: kids won’t get trophies just for showing up. They certainly aren’t alone, and associations that do hand out participation trophies,  often make a young age cutoff.

It’s maybe hard to argue too much in favor of participation trophies. They don’t really do anything, after all. It’s just something to acknowledge that a kid was part of a team, and it’s inclusionary so nobody feels left out. But is the practice actually harmless, or is it setting kids up for a lifetime of disappointment when the trophies stop coming?

What’s Your Take?

Take 1: Winners get the trophies, period.

Where did this even get started? In sports and in life, the person or team that does the best gets the reward. That’s what a reward is. It doesn’t go to somebody just to make them feel better. A competition loses all incentive if everyone gets a trophy. Athletes like Kobe Bryant achieved success by being hyper-focused and never settling for anything but the best. We should instill those same values in kids.

Then there are the practical concerns. Not every youth sports organization can shell out all the money to give every kid a prize. There is nothing wrong with kids participating in sports just for the fun of it. But that doesn’t mean we need to reward it with a trophy. Kids will come to expect that just showing up in life is sufficient, and that’s a destructive lesson.

Take 2: This isn’t pro sports, every kid could use a boost.

Too much is made of giving kids participation trophies. It’s just a nice little reward at the end of a season, it doesn’t mean that kid is going to feel entitled for the rest of his or her life. Some kids may give up a sport entirely if they don’t feel like they belong. Sports are for everyone, and participation trophies can help enforce that at an early age.

Kids only get to be kids for so long. They grow up to compete at high stakes, if not in sports, then in life. Let them deal with that reward system when they’re older.

What’s your take? Are participation trophies a symbol of all that’s wrong with the next generation? Or are they just a harmless reward for a season’s worth of hard work, akin to a season-ending pizza party? Have your say in the comments below.

From GameChanger and Todd Kortemeier

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