Participation Trophies Aren’t Evil

There are a lot of evils in the country. There are bad people and bad ideas and even worse bad people executing bad ideas, but participation trophies should land way down your radar.

The above was posted by a professional football player who needed to puff his chest and extend his bravado. He disagreed with the trophies so much that he took them from his children and returned them to the coaches. To do that and post the message he did is ridiculously short-sighted.

To argue what he is arguing, you have to be willing to say that these participation trophies do lead to a sense of entitlement. How many trophies do you have? Participation, MVPs, all-city selections, all of them. How many of those have you used to get a job? How about a new car? At best, you may have gotten an extra date. These trophies have ZERO value in the real world and cannot be traded in for a Fortune 500 gig or for a month off your mortgage. The value is 23¢ of plastic. Why are you assuming there is more to it than that? They WILL EARN EVERYTHING ELSE IN THEIR LIVES.

You are also going to assume the argument there is harm in the trophy. It’s a detriment to give a 7-year old a hunk of plastic for hanging out with his friends for a couple months. A lot of these kiddos are being pushed to play several more than a couple of months because of these types of parents that want their kid to make money and let them retire. I got a few of these trophies and wasn’t a MVP, but I played hard and had a good time. A participation trophy did nothing but sit on my dresser until it eventually made it’s way into the trash when I replaced it with better stuff. That’s what kids do. We move on. No kid stares at a participation and thinks “I made it” for very long. Heaven forbid a 9-year old kid has some smiles after spending many hours doing something they may or may not have enjoyed.

The argument also assumes that the trophy is the lesson in the season. It is not. Not even close. The lesson in the season is the teamwork, the camaraderie, the giving up of the self for a greater good. That not your needs are the most important, but the team comes first. There is a case to be argued that giving a kid MVP is a bigger assault to our futures than the participation trophies. There is the singling-out of one kid, above all of the others, to say to him “You did it better than anyone else, we must reward you. Not the team, you.”

It also assumes being the MVP is better of an award because it was earned. Perhaps, work with me here, you are faster and stronger than me because of your genetics. You may be four inches taller, hit a growth spurt later, twenty pounds heavier than your peers and that puts you right in line for all kinds of skewed “earned” numbers. Genetics, for the record, are not earned. It’s literally your lot in life.

Understand that these trophies are nothing more than a souvenir. Just like you and your family got to go to Disneyland and you got Mickey’s ears, it’s a physical symbol that “you were here”. Nothing more and nothing less.

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