We’ve written about the debate over everyone getting a trophy in youth sports before. It was arguably one of the most discussed and debated topics we’ve ever hit on! Some people say that giving everyone a trophy (such as a participation award) undermines the value of the award itself and teaches kids that “showing up” is good enough. You don’t get a reward for being “average” in real life, so why should we teach kids that lesson in sports? The counter argument is that parents need to lighten up! It’s just Little League and giving a 7 year old a trophy is going to make them happy so why not let them have it? Isn’t that what youth sports is about anyway?
Well the latest Reason-Rupe poll finds that when it comes to kids and their trophies, 57% of Americans think only the winning players should receive them. 40% say all kids on a sport team should receive a trophy for their participation. The survey takes an interesting look and which demographics say yes to participation trophies and which say no. For instance, 67% of college graduates support only winners getting trophies, while 29% want all kids to get one. Take a look at the survey and see if you fall in line with your demographic.
One of our sports parents argued both sides of the fence.
For little league (6 grade and under) IMHO there is no harm in giving trophies to everyone. My kids have been on countless teams and never once have I heard them say, why is so and so getting a trophy he/she didn’t really participate? Rather, they celebrate everyone’s level of participation (valuing teamwork anyone) and they are focused on their effort and appreciate the recognition. In addition, at least in our league, standings are not kept so there is no official league winner, thus no winning trophy.
Now that said, once the competition moves to middle school where standing are kept, participation trophies are no longer appropriate. Meanwhile, the kids recognize this as well and the problem of everyone gets a trophy goes away.
Another sports dad is in the 57% and argued that participation awards do more harm than good;
Later when I started coaching at the high school level, the level of entitlement displayed by some of the very same kids I coached once at the higher levels was unbelievable. Why should I have to explain to a parent about having to earn playing time when the answer is right before their eyes if they would just take the time to attend practice?
I hate the practice of giving “participation trophies” and am ashamed that I EVER took part in such a practice.
It is okay to lose. It is okay for others to get something you didn’t earn. The sooner this lesson is driven home, the better, because there sure aren’t any trophies for showing up in the real world.
Another sports mom argued on behalf of the participation trophies, and she makes a fairly compelling argument;
As the wife of a former Olympian, my husband was MOST blessed by coaching special [sic] olympians. That is when he appreciated the gift he had. As we prepare for the Olympic games, I realize that only a hand full of individuals will ever appreciate the honor of standing on the gold metal platform to represent their country. As we [sic] chear for our children, remember [sic] participantion is the most important thing they can do. Love your participants at every level understand the pain and sacrifice that they will endure for simply being a participant. All 4 of our kids have a multitude of participant certificates. Last year, our youngest son (age 7) placed a 4th place individual wrestling trophy on the mantel. We are so proud.