Participation: Is It Worth A Trophy?
Sports

Participation: Is It Worth A Trophy?

Why is the dusty bauble on a kid's shelf becoming an issue?

673
Tanios Dagher

The participation trophy: a commemorative relic resigned to shelves and boxes across the country, is now a hot-button issue in American society athletically, psychologically and even politically.

Some argue that presenting both winners and losers with trophies fosters what Psychology Today referred to as "a nation of wimps" who feel entitled. The other side of the argument is that the awards motivate and encourage children. Hilary Levey Friedman interviewed 37 children for her book "Playing to Win: Raising Children in a Competitive Culture" and found that kids knew what they got their trophies for and why. Kenneth Barish, a clinical associate professor of psychology at Weill Cornell Medical College, said he sees no harm in adults using a trophy to encourage participation, and that he's found no evidence the practice leads to entitlement.

"To be honest I don't even really like trophies or medals in general," stated Allie Godfrey, 19. "You take pictures with them and then they sit on a shelf and collect dust. I would rather win a t-shirt or something. It's more the glory of winning and bragging that I like." Godfrey was one of the captains of a back-to-back state champion basketball team in high school.

In 2015, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison sparked commentary when he posted images of his sons' participation trophies stating that he was going to confiscate them.

While many concurred that the boys should learn that we don't win at life 100 percent of the time and that everything in life should be earned, Kevin Kilgour of The Emory Wheel stated, "I find it unlikely that Harrison declines his paycheck following a Steelers loss, nor that he feels any better about the loss despite his reward. Likewise, participation trophies in no way deceive children into being satisfied with losing."

Yet high school student Betty Berdan in her New York Times article "Participation Trophies Send a Dangerous Message," wrote that, "When awards are handed out like candy to every child who participates, they diminish in value. If every soccer player receives a trophy for merely showing up to practice and playing in games, the truly exceptional players are slighted... Trophies for all convey an inaccurate and potentially dangerous life message to children: We are all winners... We begin to expect awards and praise for just showing up—to class, practice, after-school jobs—leaving us woefully unprepared for reality. Outside the protected bubble of childhood, not everyone is a winner."

Youth sports blogger Bob Cook felt wary of Berdan's message and responded in an article from Forbes. He feels that sports, where someone keeps score and only one teams wins the championship, do not reflect true life values anyway.

"Life does not have a 'winners' podium'," he wrote, "not if life means being a good, conscientious person who measures success not merely by money made or career title held."

Others point out that it is not the children who ask for, distribute or manufacture awards, but rather parents and coaches. One article from CNN cites the financial incentive, that some classes and camps need to distribute awards in order keep both kids and parents happy so that they want to come back.

Meanwhile, many millennials supposedly affected by this plaque of entitlement seem to place their opinions on the matter on a spectrum.

One freshman soccer player at the University of Dayton believes it is a matter of the age of the participants.

"I think when you start hitting the age for real competition and not just for recreational fun, participation trophies should stop. For super little kids I think they are fine. I stopped getting participation trophies when I hit select soccer age, which was at 11 years old."

Tanios "Tony" Dagher, a college freshman who played varsity volleyball all four years of high school, disapproves of participation trophies because they give kids the wrong idea about the benefits of athletics.

"A child shouldn't need to get a trophy as a reward for playing a sport. The reward is being able to have fun and take care of their body. It is just reinforcing the notion that you play a sport to be good and get a reward."

The real reward, Dagher believes, is intangible.

Others expound that the debate itself is an irrelevant construct rather than a real, pressing social concern.

"It is in effect both a way for baby boomers to complain about millennials, but it's them who also were the coaches who wanted the trophies. Five-year-olds aren't the ones suggesting they get trophies. It's more...parents worrying about their kids too much," explained one student at The Ohio State University.

The question it all seems to boil down to is how much of an impact a participation trophy really has on a child's values as they grow into adulthood. Is it "softening" America, setting the scene for adults who don't know how to handle loss, or is it simply a harmless tool of encouragement? Or, in the face of other nationwide and global crises, is the matter not worth debating?

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

While parts of the U.S. are beginning to re-open after months in quarantine, the future of date nights at home is still bright — because, let's face it, wearing masks to a fancy restaurant with your boo in the coming months just doesn't sound fun.

So, if you're looking to have a little romantic fun indoors, we've got just the games for you. Click through the slideshow below for 11 couples games that'll help you two become closer than ever.

Keep Reading... Show less

I've always been interested in any product that can get me the Jennifer Lopez-esque natural glow. I'm Indian and have medium-toned skin, so getting darker was never really the goal. Rather, I've always looked for a product that would even out my skin tone and cellulite, basically making my legs look Photoshopped.

Now more than ever we're craving that healthy, tan glow most of us only get after spending a week poolside with margarita in hand. We may not be spending an SPF-soaked summer hitting on our local lifeguards. But when we're going on socially-distanced walks outside, taking viral-worthy selfies, or just want to test out the best self-tanners for when you do finally get to show off all the bikinis you binge-purchased through your quarantine boredom, these are the best to ways to glow up, no matter your shade of skin, whether you have uber-sensitive eczema-ridden skin, or just want J-Lo glow, smooth legs.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Quarantine Checkup Week 10: It's Officially Summer, Even In Quarantine

An Odyssey panel discussion about all things quarantine.

Thanks to coronavirus (COVID-19), most of the United States has gone into its own version of quarantine. While no one loves this new way of life we're adjusting to, it's the necessity that will eventually help us fling open our front doors and frolic freely once again!

Premature thinking? Maybe. But while we're in the midst of this quarantine time, we're chatting about the most terrifying, the funniest, and the weirdest thing that quarantine has forced us into recently.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

13 Father's Day Shirts Under $30 To Gift The Dad Wearing The Same Two Every Day In Quarantine

You've been begging him to change it up, and now he won't have a choice.

Let's be honest: most of our dads are wearing the same shirts today that they probably wore while changing our diapers and holding our hands as we learned to walk. Sure, we love them for it. But whether you're quarantined with him wearing the same two shirts on rotation every week, or every time you FaceTime him, you know what he'll be wearing before he answers the phone, he needs to add some new items to his wardrobe rotation.

And you know dads — they'll feel guilted into using practically anything you were to give them. But these shirts are sure-fire ways to get him to switch up his wardrobe, and he'll be more than excited to wear each and every one of them. Plus, most of them are under twenty dollars, so no harm in dropping more than a couple in to your cart and letting Dad have his pick of his favorites.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Sat Down (Virtually) With Hollis Tuttle To Talk About Coronavirus's Impact On The Wellness Industry

Just because coronavirus has greatly impacted the wellness industry doesn't mean wellness stops.

If you're anything like me, your weekly fitness classes are a huge part of your routine. They keep me fit, healthy, and sane. Honestly, these classes help my mental health stay in tip-top shape just as much as they help my physical health.

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, gyms and fitness studios are facing temporary closure. Yes, this means my personal routine is thrown a curveball, but this also means the wellness industry is one of many that is looking at unemployment and hardship. Do I miss my Monday spin class? Of course. But do the wellness professionals whose worlds were flipped upside down have a lot more to overcome than a slight change of routine? Absolutely. Thankfully, if anyone can prove the ultimate flexibility, it's the wellness industry.

Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

My Boyfriend Has Changed Since Quarantine Began, And I Don't Know What To Do

"All he says is 'I love you,' which is great and all but OMG I can't get anything else out of him."

Each week Swoonie B will give her advice on anonymous topics submitted by readers. Want to Ask Swoonie B something related to dating and relationships? Fill out this form here — it's anonymous.

Dear Swoonie B,

My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost a year, which has been the best year of my life (as far as i know). Well we go to different schools and are both very involved in sports and school activities which makes it hard to see each other. During this quarantine it is especially hard. Since we haven't seen each other in over a week things are kind of tense. He won't really talk to me much and I always check in on him to make sure he is doing well and to just see how he is, ya know being a girlfriend. Well apparently that is driving him crazy and I don't understand how. I'm not being controling or clingy, i'm just checking in on him. While this is happening, I also have noticed how he just doesn't really care anymore. I'll leave him paragraphs of sweet love letters to wake up to and I encourage him throughout his day but I just don't get it in return. I love him with all of me and I obviously care about him a lot. Also, I've compared how he talked to me before all of this has happened. He was so sweet and caring, texting me a lot and telling me he loves me and just making sure everything is OK but he doesn't do that anymore. All he says is "I love you," which is great and all but OMG I can't get anything else out of him. He is a little stressed at home with trying to find another job to pay for his car, constantly having to do things for his mom, being responsible for his siblings, and managing school. I know thats a lot but im doing a lot too right now and going through a lot of the same stuff he is but It seems to me he just does not care and i don't know what to do. Please help me or give me some advice on what to say, what not to say, what to do, what not to do. Anything at this point will help. Thank you!

If I had a dollar for every time I heard "these are unprecedented times," I'd be rich. But that's because it's true!

Keep Reading... Show less
Tower 28

On paper, Amy Liu appears to be one of the most intimidating women in the beauty business. Not only did she launch her beauty marketing career at legendary Smashbox Cosmetics, she went on to lead luxury, high-end brands like Kate Somerville and Josie Maran — just to name a few.

But sitting down to meet Liu for the first time in an underground New York bar over a year ago felt like meeting a friend I'd known since childhood. As she walked into the bar in a chic red dress, it was impossible not to feel her immediate warm presence. When she talks about her history as an entrepreneur (and truly, at heart, she always was one), you don't get the sense that she's selling you anything, though with her impeccable taste, I'd use anything that had her glowing review attached to it.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments