Why Participation Trophies Don't Help Anyone

Why Participation Trophies Don't Help Anyone

Success should not be handed to you.

As a kid, I played sports. I was involved in soccer and softball. Every year, I was so excited to get out on that field and show everyone what I was made of. I worked hard all season in both sports to come away with a recognition of my hard work.

When it came time for awards at the end of the season, I was always so disappointed when I was handed yet another generic trophy that the entire team got. I would go home and stuff it in a drawer. Even at that age, I knew that the trophy didn’t reflect the hard work I had put in, but only the fact that I had showed up.

This is the problem with participation trophies. I think that they're an early start to a lousy work ethic. While it's good to be proud of children for everything they take part in, not everything deserves a trophy.

Even top athletes feel they're a joke. Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison actually took away his sons’ participation trophies. While this may seem harsh to some, he had the right idea in mind. “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... because sometimes your best is not enough, and that should drive you to want to do better.”

Personally, I was always taught to try my best. I was told that not everyone is good at everything, but if you try your best, you should be satisfied. This was not comforting to me. Seeing other people walk away with awards, and not me, made me hungry for success.

I learned to push myself more than I knew possible in hopes I would come out on top. If I wasn’t on top, I tried harder. I didn’t let failure defeat me. I let it make me stronger.

This is true not only in athletics, but also in academics. I strived for greatness in my grades. If I didn't receive recognition for my work, that was a sign that I wasn’t doing well enough. While it may seem tough, it's important to keep in mind that life is tough.

No one just hands anyone a job or a nice house. It's all based on work ethic and the drive to be the best you can be. I don't think this creates cocky monsters, rather, people who know what it is to do something and give 110 percent.

Participation trophies have been debated so much that research has been done on them. In a New York Times article, it is said that Carol Dweck, a psychology professor at Stamford University, found that “kids respond positively to praise; they enjoy hearing that they’re talented, smart and so on. But after such praise of their innate abilities, they collapse at the first experience of difficulty. Demoralized by their failure, they say they’d rather cheat than risk failing again.”

The last thing that we want to do is make kids cheat to feel like they have done well. Participation trophies are nothing but tools that are intended to do good, but ultimately, they result in entitled children who don’t know the meaning of hard work. While no one likes to fail, it's necessary. Everyone who has ever succeeded knows failure, and that is a fact. This goes to show that failure doesn’t mean defeat, it only gives more reason to strive for success.

We need to keep failure as the path to success in mind. We need to teach kids to fall down seven times and stand up eight, instead of cradling them so falling down isn’t an option.

It's time to recognize that children have amazing potential and to bring it out of them with hard work, and by awarding only those who work the hardest for it, not those who just get by. With only awarding those at the top, it will give those at the bottom something to strive for and give them the ability to become amazing.

Cover Image Credit: Nicole Coughlin

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No, UCF, You Are Not 'National Champions,'

An undefeated season, Peach Bowl champions and a self-proclaimed title, they believe they are the kings of college football.

The college football world crowned a new National Champion Jan. 8th in Atlanta, Georgia. The Alabama Crimson Tide were the kings of Division I again after beating the Georgia Bulldogs 26-23 in an overtime thriller, capturing their 17th title in school history.

However, despite not being in the playoffs, one team has declared themselves the 2017 National Champions.

The University of Central Florida finished the season 13-0, the only undefeated team in the country. Despite being unbeaten, the Knights missed out on the playoffs and instead got a bid to play in the Peach Bowl. Their opponent, the Auburn Tigers.

Auburn was the only team to beat both Alabama and Georgia throughout the year. The only team to ever beat two #1 teams in a span of three weeks in the playoff era. Opening up, the Tigers were a 13-point favorite over UCF. That was until kickoff. The Knights started slow, then turned up the heat and showed the nation why they were undefeated. UCF beat Auburn 34-27 and that’s when the claims of a National Championship started.

To UCF, they beat Auburn. The team that beat the two teams who played in the National Championship, therefore they are the kings. Hold up, not so fast.

Congratulations to The University of Central Florida on an incredible season. Arguably the best turn around in college sports, from 0-12 two years ago to 13-0 and Peach Bowl champions. That is not an easy task.

But to claim a National Championship? That is a bit extreme.

The school went as far as announcing they were going to hang a banner in the stadium and Disney hosted a parade for the team. On the night of the National Championship, the school hosted a block party in celebration.

As people flooded the streets of Disney, chants being screamed “We Want Bama” and “UCF UCF UCF,” the National Championship game kicked off.

In the early 2000s when Boise State and TCU began to get a nationwide audience, there were no talks of claiming championships, the Broncos, and the Horned Frogs kept playing and kept beating the big boys of college football earning respect with their programs. UCF should do the same, just keep playing ball. It has only been one year.

Being a smaller school, a Peach Bowl victory is huge for the football program. Nationwide attention, big bonus checks, and hardware for the trophy case. It is all positive for the UCF program. Claiming a National Title only diminishes the program's reputation that’s finally on the rise.

With head coach Scott Frost leaving to Nebraska and taking almost all of his assistants, UCF has more things to worry about then claiming something that’s not theirs. The Knights have to find a way to continue to win.

If Alabama and UCF squared up, the Crimson Tide would be a 21-point favorite.

Stop the claims, you’re not the champs. It's not the early 1900s anymore.

Cover Image Credit: UCF Knights / Instagram

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7 Things You Dread Hearing Your Rowing Coach Say

Coaches are the best and the worst at the same time

You may love your coach. You may absolutely hate your coach. But either way, there are definitely at least a few things that you hate hearing them say to you. They could be the type of thing that's more of an annoying inconvenience than anything else. Or they could make your heart start beating faster out of anxiety. Or they could ruin your entire week because you can't stop thinking about them. I happen to love my coaches, but there are most definitely some things that I would rather not hear them say. Here are a few examples I have heard:

1. "Surprise 2k/5k today"

As someone who definitely needs to mentally prepare for these at least the day before, a surprise 2k/5k is not appreciated. I also need to make sure that I'm actually staying hydrated so I don't pass out afterward.

2. "We are rowing on the square"

Halfway through your first novice season, you think that you're done with rowing on the square. No longer will you struggle to get your blade out of the water. Jokes on you because two years into your rowing career your coach decides to put your boat back on the square in an attempt to help the set.

3. "It's too windy to go out today"

This always means one of two things. One, you're going on the longest run ever because you need to fill the time. Two, you will be doing some sort of circuit for the duration of practice. I have had both happen before. As much as I hate running, doing circuits for nearly two hours is far worse.

4. "When can you come talk to me?"

If you are expecting this text then it's not that bad. If you get it randomly in the middle of class that's another story. This is especially nervewracking when they don't give you any clue as to why they need you to come in.

5. "I'll tell you the workout after the warmup"

If your coach won't tell you the workout beforehand it's usually because it's not going to be fun. In my personal experience with this statement, the workout was always a surprise 5k.

6. "We're out of snacks"

I know this sounds really petty. This is also a student-athlete problem too. We always keep a cooler of fruit and various kinds of bars and fruit snacks to have after practice in our erg room. Last semester I went straight to class from practice and didn't have a break to eat until noon. I, along with at least a few other people, almost depended on those snacks to hold me over until then. So it was very unfortunate when we were all out.

7. "Today's workout is H.O.P."

If you do not know, H.O.P. stands for Hour of Power. This workout is a strong rival with the 5k as far as difficult workouts go. It's a partner workout. One partner runs a certain distance while the second partner ergs. Once the runner gets back they switch. This goes back and forth until the hour is up. You're constantly moving and constantly out of breath.

Cover Image Credit: Mine

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