Participation Trophies

Quite a few people I know are anti-participation trophy.
I disagree with them (frequently).
I’m all for it.
The main argument I hear is that “adults don’t get participation trophies.”

First of all, when did we start applying adult standards to kids?
Second of all, you absolutely get rewarded as an adult for participating. Participate in a charity 5k and tell me they DIDN’T give you a T-shirt and a finishers medal. Participation trophy.
Play a video game for 5 minutes that has trophies, achievements, or badges and you’ve probably already earned one. “Congratulations! You made it to Level 1!” Participation trophy. 
Even if you show up for a job interview, enter a contest, or submit something and get REJECTED you get all the pleasantries and a “thanks for your time”. While it’s not a physical trophy, a “thank you” is a reward.

Also, what adult do you know that CAN’T use the message of “Your efforts are being noticed and appreciated”. Maybe a few of them would stop being so bitter if that was printed on their paycheck and they got a gold star on it.

I think that the problem with the people who get angry at participation trophies for this reason should start participating in things so they can get trophies, too. They should stop projecting their bitterness onto their kids. Or mine.

And to those who think we should be teaching kids that you can’t always win…
First of all, why not? How many cliches exist that teach us that if we try our best or don’t lose perspective or take care of those close to us- that’s when we REALLY win?

Beyond the cliches- no one is telling these kids that they won. (To my knowledge anyway.) They’re saying “even though you didn’t win, you tried.” I seriously doubt that any kids are any more motivated by participation trophies than adults are motivated by that finishers medal. Most adults are trying to prove something or support something by participation.
If you take a competitive kid and say “I’ll race you to the door but it doesn’t matter if you win”, the kid will still try to win. They will know who won. So acting like a participation trophy is in any way related to the ideas of winning and losing is ridiculous.

That’s just how I feel about it. Then again, I’m not really competitive to begin with. First place isn’t as much of a motivator for me as, say, making my team mates proud or doing my best. I don’t give up or slack off just because I’m not competitive, I’m just not motivated by the competition itself. Then again, I don’t know what really motivates me. Ask any manager (or teacher) I’ve ever had- no one knows.

What about you? What motivates you? Do you have a kid who gets participation trophies? Are you for or against them? Is this the first you’re hearing of them? Should we all just get over it and let each league do their own thing?


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