To me, this topic makes me think back to our discussion about entitlement in younger generations. In my opinion, I don’t think that youth sports should hand out participation trophies for all its athletes. I understand that it is important for adults to provide our youth with an athletic environment that is conducive to participation, but it is also important to provide an environment that teaches them about life lessons as well.
In my experiences with athletics, both playing and coaching, it has always been about both teaching the sport or skill necessary to be successful, but also teaching the young people about life and life lessons. I think that athletics provide a great environment in which invaluable life lessons can be learned, like hard work, determination, perseverance, and overcoming adversity. Sports are the ultimate metaphor for life in some instances. In sports, just like in life, sometimes the best team or person doesn’t win the championship. Sometimes you have to overcome adversities that may or may not be in your control.
If we start rewarding mediocrity in youth athletics with participation trophies, a myriad of issues can arise. Children will become entitled, expecting a reward even if they really don’t deserve it. There are no participation trophies in life.
Children also need to learn the lesson that not everyone is going to “win” everything throughout their lives. Sometimes there is someone or something that is just simply better than you or more qualified than you. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I think that some parents in today’s day and age feel that their child needs to come in first place in everything they do, or succeed in every venture in life they participate in. This attitude fosters an environment in which failure is taken way too seriously by the parents or children, and sometimes this failure causes a landslide of negative attitudes.
Overall, I feel that society has been trending towards an attitude of inclusion instead of fostering a healthy environment of competition that helps people to work harder to attain life goals instead of having things handed to them. Giving out participation trophies to every athlete in youth sports only reinforces this entitlement rather than helping children realize that hard work is necessary to get ahead in life.
Here’s a link to Edward’s article: http://www.nays.org/article/10684-Trophies-for…-everyone
*This post does not represent the opinions of the Department of Kinesiology, Health, and Sport Studies nor does it represent the opinions of Wayne State University. It is a perspective piece by a graduate student and should be viewed as such*