We had a devastating flood and lost most everything. I pulled my kids’ trophies and medals out of their rooms with the idea of ordering them replacements.
My husband didn’t want me to. He said to only order and replace the ones that “meant something,” not the participation trophies.
I strongly disagreed.
Not a fan of participation trophies? There are so many reasons to like them or at least to think about them differently.
I liken it to an adult training for and running in a marathon. Are you not proud of your hard work and training? Don’t you want to celebrate finishing the 26.2 miles even though you probably weren’t a “winner?”
Aren’t you proud of yourself even trying? You most definitely should be proud of the effort you put in training for that marathon, that triathlon or that 5K. Wear that tee shirt with pride. You probably still have your finisher’s medal somewhere, don’t you?
Why is it different for kids and participation trophies?
Do we only celebrate winning?
Why shouldn’t every kid get a participation trophy? Is winning all that matters? Is winning all we are trying to teach our kids?
No, it shouldn’t be. There is so much more going on when your son or daughter joins a sport or a team.
- Are you a fan of participation trophies?
It’s interesting how people against participation trophies think kids shouldn’t earn something “just for showing up.” Yet, kids are doing much more than just showing up.
Trying a new sport
Think about everything involved in sports.
First, depending on your child’s age and the sport, he may be trying a new sport for the first time.
Chances are his/her friends are doing it or it seemed somehow appealing to your child.
So your kid wants to try it, not even knowing what to expect and all that it entails. Some kids have been playing sports since they were in preschool; maybe yours is starting later.
Worth celebrating: Your child is breaking out of his comfort zone and trying something new.
Whether he wants to or not, your child has gone to practice.
Unless he/she completely loves it and can’t wait to go, there are days when he would rather not. Maybe he is tired, has a lot of homework, or just needs some downtime and just wants to chill in front of the TV.
But he still gets and goes to practice. He shows up, even after a long day of school and childcare afterwards or maybe a long bus ride home.
Chances are, he’s had to miss something more fun, like an after school activity, playing with friends, or some other outing, because of practice.
Worth celebrating: Showing up and being committed to the team, even when he didn’t want to or feel like it.
Not liking the sport
It sounded cool before he signed up, but after several practices, he or she just doesn’t like it.
Maybe he doesn’t like the sport or is overwhelmed by the rules, the equipment or the teammates. Perhaps he gets there and realizes all his teammates have been playing together for awhile, and he feels like an outsider.
Maybe he isn’t as good as the other players or it just isn’t his sport.
Perhaps your child is on one team but all of his friends are on the other. Maybe the coach overemphasizes winning or singles out mistakes.
Still, your child goes to practice and the games, resigned, and usually without complaint.
Worth celebrating: Perseverance. Sticking with his commitment, even if he doesn’t like it.
Showing up on time
Our goal as parents is to teach our kids how to be responsible, contributing adults.
Sports teach our kids the importance of showing up on time to practice and games. They need to prepared with equipment, hydrated and fueled, and ready to play.
No one wants to wait for all the players to arrive in order to start. You and your child made it out the door all of those times.
Worth celebrating: He is learning responsibility.
There is so much more to sports than just winning.
When your child joins a team, he or she learns about listening to and learning from his coach. Your child will learn to accept direction, to learn rules, and to be positive and open to doing things a different way.
Worth celebrating: Being willing to learn from others.
Being a good teammate
Hopefully, children will learn about teamwork and what it takes to be a good teammate.
Kids need to learn how to be graceful when things don’t go their way, so they can grow up into functioning adults. Winning and losing is a part of that. They need to learn about being a good sport, win or lose.
Maybe they learn to literally extend a hand and help their teammate or their competition up off the ground. Maybe they say, “Good shot,” or “Nice hit” even though they wish it was them making the awesome play. Kids learn to shake hands at the end of the game.
Worth celebrating: Being respectful of others. Getting along and working with peers. It’s not all about them.
Not being the star
Isn’t it nice to recognize and reward your child for sticking with something, even if he isn’t one of the best? Even if he sits out more than he plays? For trying his hardest, even if he doesn’t excel in the sport?
Worth celebrating: Effort.
Not winning the big game
Whether your child’s team comes in second place or last place, chances are, they showed up ready to play, they tried hard and hustled, they were coachable, and did their best.
Why shouldn’t that be rewarded? No matter how good your team, sometimes you’re just outmatched.
Worth celebrating: Never giving up.
Why every kid should get a participation trophy
I don’t want to teach my kids — and I sure don’t want them to get the message — that it’s all about winning. It’s so much more than that.
I want them to learn about perseverance and never quitting.
I want them to learn about being prepared and taking care of their bodies so they can give their all for the team.
Also, I want my kid to realize he doesn’t have to be the best one out there but that he has to try his best.
Participation trophies stand for something
At the end of the season and for years to come, I want my child to look at his trophy, a participation trophy or one he so-called “earned” for “winning,” and remember the fun times as well as the hard times.
I want my daughter to look at that trophy and remember her teammates and how hard she worked, win or lose.
I’d love my son or daughter to look at their shelf and see a lineup of trophies, hopefully which will remind them about a favorite coach, sport, or team they were on. May he remember what he learned that season and ways he could improve.
Hopefully, he takes what he learned from those seasons to make him a more responsible person as he gets older.
Pros of participation trophies
Many opponents don’t believe in the “every child gets a trophy” trend.
Yet, your child showed up. She did what she was supposed to do even on days she didn’t want to. Celebrate that.
We can measure success and winning in so many different ways.
A fan of participation trophies
So yes, I did reorder all of their trophies and medals. I wasn’t able to perfectly replicate each one, but it was good enough for our kids, and for me.
Participation trophies don’t need to be all about winning. Why shouldn’t children be recognized for completing the season? Winning shouldn’t be the only thing that matters. There’s so many reasons to be in support of participation trophies, whether your child is the MVP or not.