The idea of participation trophies seems to cause a lot of stir.
Generation X and Baby Boomers preach that Millennials and younger seem to receive too many and expect them for everything they do.
Millennials beg to differ.
Besides the fact I am a Millennial, I beg to differ as well because I'm the one who actually makes the trophies.
Yep, that's right: I am a trophy maker. I've been doing it for nearly two years now, and I could tell you a lot of secrets about the world of awards, but the one thing I really want the world to know is that it's not Millennials getting participation trophies.
Sure, Millennials got some little medals or cute trophies after finishing a sports season, and Gen Z—who should not be confused with Millennials—gets them as well. I know that most Millennials understand that it was for a season of hard work in little league and being a great team player.
We didn't just get trophies for every little thing we did. You don't just get one because you wear a uniform, you had to—and I know this is a wild concept—participate. You had to put in work.
This isn't a concept grasped by older generations. Truthfully, the best part about participation trophies is that we didn't buy them, we didn't ask for them, we didn't approve them.
The people who criticize us for getting participation trophies are the ones giving participation trophies.
Now, working in a trophy shop, I know exactly who is ordering trophies and what for.
I know that a Gen Y mom is coming in to order her son a trophy because he made it to the district championship with the high school football team but didn't receive anything more than a pat on the back from the coach, and to her, that's not good enough.
I know that Baby Boomers want to give their high school grad a trophy because a diploma isn't enough representation of their hard work.
I know who is buying trophies. I know who is getting them. I know why.
Millennials are not asking for them because we understand we need to work hard to earn something.
When we call out companies for not paying us enough for the work and requirements, it's not us asking for participation trophies. It's us asking to be given a fair wage for the amount of work and requirements they ask of us. We're asking not be taken advantage of.
Yeah, there are outliers who expect a participation trophy and special treatment, but that can be found in every generation.
Trust me, we're not the ones asking for trophies.
I've seen mothers come in and tell their children to pick out a trophy like they're picking out a toy. They look at the hundreds of options, pace the shelves, look at colors, toppers, and styles. It's just for them.
Moms are telling their 12-year-olds they deserve a participation trophy. They don't care if they won, lost, participated or not, because no matter what happened, to some of the people who come in, the sense of accomplishment and earning something is not enough.
Stop telling my generation all we do is expect participation trophies.
Look at who's trying to hand them out in the first place.
Maybe the next time you want to stop by and get a trophy specially made for your little leaguer who lost, ask yourself "If no one else got one, why does my child deserve it?"