Image from sisterhoodofthesensiblemoms.com
Image from sisterhoodofthesensiblemoms.com

Sports are known to be very competitive games and the team that triumph will surely get their reward. However, the reward concept seems to be somewhat twisted with the autumn rites granted to kids who join any sporting events. And this is when participation trophies are given to these younger athletes.

It has been a tradition that at the end of the season, the kids (together with their coach) will gather in one place, maybe a pizza restaurant or one of the players’ house. Their coach will then distribute their trophies and medals, not because they won in the game but because they participated.

The buzz about participation trophies started when Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison posted this on instagram; “My boys have always been making me proud for everything they have done. And I am committed to give them encouragement even to my last breathe. But these trophies which they receive as their participation trophies have to be taken back and will be given back when they will finally earn a real one”.

“I need to raise my boys as real men and they need to understand that even trying their best may not entitle them any reward”, James added.

James post resulted to thousands of comments, everyone expressing their insights on the purposes of the participation trophy. To some, such token will help boost their self-esteem and help them appreciate teamwork and sports. But to others, it deprives them the opportunity to learn that it is only through hard work and perseverance in failure and loss that one can have success and obtain a reward.

Ashley Merryman explained the science of winning and losing on her book. She said that any competition is not only about winning but it is actually about making room for improvements. Hence, if you give participation trophies to kids, she said it is just like telling them that there is no need for them to learn from their mistakes. And only expects them to win, whether they improve or not.

Psychologist Carol Dweck of Stanford University even said that giving praise to kids has gone overboard these days. According to Carol, the participation trophy may be encouraged by a self-esteem group that was organized in the late 1960’s.  This group believes that the key to happiness is having a good self-esteem. And proclaiming losers and winners damage self-esteem and has to be discouraged.

But Professor Steve Miller in Saint Mary’s College said that kids today are smarter than what they think they are. They know what they truly deserve, regardless if they are given participation trophies or not.