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March 25, 2016


Cindy Z

I agree for the most part. I think Winners should be given a trophy that clearly says "First Place" or "Winner", and participation should be acknowledged with something like a medal that specifically says "participant", particularly with the younger kids. But as kids get older, I think participation "rewards" should be eliminated, maybe around age 10.


You know what Katie? You actually changed my mind on this topic. Thank you for sharing your insightful thoughts on this matter. I think it will have an impact on how I raise my two daughters. (only 19 months and 19 days old now)

Kay Beams

I don't think it hurts anything for every child to receive a participation trophy. He is putting in his effort and doing his best, and that deserves credit. It certainly doesn't hurt anything. It makes the child feel included in the activity, and is a reward for the effort the child made. It makes children feel left out and probably ashamed if they don't get acknowledged for their effort. I entirely agree with these comments by Katie Bugbee "But at the end of the season, she gets a participation award or trophy. And you know what? She’s super proud – and she should be. She finished."

"So when James Harrison says that trophies should be for those who earned them, I’d counter and say – My kid earned it. She’s the kid who shows up against her will week after week and tries something that’s totally out of her comfort zone. And you know what? If the coach were to only give a prize to the top scorers, the athletically gifted kids, she would walk off that field feeling like a big piece of poo."

William Roelker

I stopped reading up the point you stated, "... we don't need to minimize their accomplishment."

I truly believe that the definition, and by whom is doing the defining, is the epicenter of all of these issues, and that it is all subjective, but can be objective.

For example, someone who may have Down's Syndrome, and waking up with no issue can be rewarded, or celebrated, but for someone who has no limitations, waking-up is not an accomplishment. Nor is putting a fork in a mouth when eating, nor tying a shoe when taught to do so.....God gave each of us a brain to learn. It is not necessarily an accomplishment deserving of a trophy, nor is it minimalizing an accomplishment, when one is not constrained to learned, "programmed" or predisposed to learn.
In the end, we are all predisposed to learn, and at different rates and time from others. But when someone learns something that they should learn or is set up to learn easily, with minimum to no work, then it is not really an accomplishment of deserving a reward, or trophy.

And we haven't even scratched the surface of just participation. Who defines that? Just showing up and you get one? Did you do anything that is rated or defined as hard?

Work is what and where someone should be rewarded. The outliers may not have to work for items; however, most of the human population had to work, is working hard, or will have to work hard to get somewhere. Rewarding someone for something that was not accomplished, especially under easy conditions, is grooming and mentoring (dumbing down society) kids (kids for goodness sake) that if I just show up I get a reward.

Studies show the removal of a reward removes the desire to engage in that activity that you first got the reward for in the first place.

It mainly comes down to propaganda from those adults that do not cherish hard work- for one reason or another- and do not require it from their offspring.

Tami Harter

I agree with you completely, Katie. I have three children all whom are very different and excel in different areas. I think the biggest battle is getting children to act. To face their fears and try new things, to get out of their comfort zone. The majority of adults do not try new things. We are comfortable with where we are. However this is not how we accomplish excelling in life. I believe that teaching kids to try new things, along with working hard and doing their best, is a very important lesson.

Pat Greeninger

No - not everyone should receive an ackowledgement every time. If everyone gets a participation ribbon - fine. But the winner or group that wins always needs to get something special. A trophy, small or large should always be given as acknowledgement of their extra special place. PARENTS need to get over this stigma of everyone should be acknowledged.. no way - DISAPPPOINTMENT is ok. It makes the kid work harder to strive and set their goals higher.
They will appreciate it more when they do get that big win.


Katie I do get your point. However, that all to often is not the message intended or received. I could see receiving awards for things like neverbeing late to practice, never missing a practice, funniest team player, or most inspirational player and let's not forget most improved player. I love to see small children encouraged and inspired but as they get older they must understand that participation is not enough and is not considered winning. Because as a business owner today I see the kids that come out of the current educational system and after being given a task and they don't complete it and they receive a corrective action for not completing it that either quit or get upset because their comments are but I tried I showed up I did my best. And often that is not even true they didn't do the best they just expect that when they don't do something within the timeline given that they'll be given more time or be recognized for at least coming and showing up and that is what upsets so many of us about "participation trophies " because we have to live with the end product of a group of individuals that have never been told that in order to win you have to be the best . More importantly you actually have to get the job done and not just show one of the problems I see in your analogy is your daughter did cross the finish line and she got rewarded for it that is awesome and it three years old it's uplifting to the child however, would you feel the same way if your daughter quit and gave up didn't cross the line decided to go off and pick dandelions halfway through the race but still received the same trophy that your son received that is the problem that many of us parents and people again that own businesses or seen with our society and the current occasional system again I liked your article and if everything was done and the frame of mind that you have stated I would see no problem with giving small children at participation trophy unfortunately that is not always the case and most of the time it's truly not.


Love this article! My daughter is the exact same way, creative and smart and kind, but would rather stay home and play with toys or do art than play sports. She did soccer for the first time last year, it was not easy for her, but her face beamed at the end of season party when she got a beautiful participation trophy. To help coax a shy 7 year old girl to play a sport and build her confidence, these trophies are winners as far as I am concerned!


The payoff in sports is winning and being recognized for it in s grand way whether it be a medal, a ring or a check. That reward represents all the work that you or your team put in to be the best. The winners give all the non win eyes something to strive for. Giving a child a reward for showing up creates huge obstacles for their adult life in business and for those who manage them. Like sports, business has it winners and non-winners. Human nature should drive each of us to excel in everything we do and those who work hard for it should be rewarded. To be a winner losing has to motivate you. Not a participant trophy. How do people get better if we reward them every step of the way. Winners are in fact the minority of the population, however they can be replaced if the desire is strong. Stop diminishing the desire with false symbols of achievement. Finishing a challenge is the basic that parents should be teaching to prepare children for adulthood, not a trophy.

Boston Teacher

Not realistic to award all participants in anything equally. Some still believe sports teaches us valuable life lessons.
Unfortunately today we have watered down our reward systems to make everyone feel equal. They're not!
We have created a generation of entitled children who are going to fail the toughest challenges in life because their parents have decided it's more important to cradle their bruised egos rather than prepare them for real world situations.
We don't give D students As.


This is why the country is in the shape its in. You do something because you want to do it and you get a reward if you win, not because you wanted to do something. Kids don't have to work hard for anything anymore and they have no drive if its not self motivated. Try everything, but find something you love and you are good at if you want to be rewarded. Hard work pays off, not participation. If you don't teach your kids this be prepared to having them live in your basement until their 48


I think I mostly have a problem with the word "participation".

I would like "participation" trophy to be changed to "effort award". Effort is the key thing we're trying to teach and I value it over "winner". "Participation" to me suggests a very low threshold. At least if it's called effort, the child may reflect on whether they truly gave their best effort, not merely participated.


This was just a family topic last Sunday. One of little ones, number 6 of 7 (who we are in the process of adopting so many things are new for her) had a soccer "World Cup" day. I had her join to learn some social skills she lacks, as a coach I feel being part of a team is very important. She had never played being in Kindergarten, and was horrible at it. Not the running and the kicking of the ball, the team work part. She hung on her coaches, pushed other children and was completely rude to all those involved (now you see why she needed social skills). On the World Cup day, all teams competed several games against one another...and in the end a winner was declared, only every single child, on all the teams took home the same trophy.
When I asked why she had a trophy, she told me because she won. My husband and I looked at her and asked..."WOn what?" Well she went on to tell us how she was the best and made it seem like she was the top dog...I took the trophy from her and proceeded to tell her she did not win, actually, her team was second to last of 6 teams. I told her, that although her team mates played well, other teams played better, her team had actually not won, it lost.
As she began to cry, and I noticed other parents looking at me, we walked to the car. I told her she did not earn a winners trophy, that the coach gave them to anyone with a shirt.

Her shirt was what proved to her she was on a team , not a false trophy.

I coach and every weekend, no matter the scores, or effort put forth by the performers (I coach color guard, don't know what it is, google it) and the only ones who receive medals or trophies are those who earned them, the top teams. Yes I have a collection of 1st, 2nd and 3rd medals to proudly display, but if we did not earn them, we should not get them. Being part of a team is or should be a strong enough reason to lay claim to, we don't need to lie to our kids and tell them they earned a participation trophy...you can not place in participation!

We allowed her to retain the trophy to simply remind her of her first time on a team, something that as a foster child she was not allowed to be part of. But we are perfectly clear, you do not "earn" trophies for participating...you earn a trophy by winning.

Like the Olympics, their are winners and their are losers, each goes home with the knowledge they did their best. And yes, I truly feel that simply being part of a team is trophy enough~


I see many points here. I think that some of you are forgetting that some of these kids on the field or working on a project are doing so because their parents are forcing them to do something. When a coach is required to play someone 4 times a game or get in trouble, the kid plays 4 times that game because they are there because their parents realized they didn't do anything as kids or weren't successful as kids or even adults so they are trying to live through their kids. To get rewarded for being forced to do something you don't want to do is outright wrong. Now if you start the season or school year being that having to be forced kid to the getting to play 20+ times a game or finishing your projects correctly and ahead of schedule or going from not participating to being the leader or captain then those are the ones that need to be recognized.

I work in a children's ER / Urgent care and man do I see all types of kids and parents. The parents that present and act as successful confident people get more respect and the kids are acting the the same with very few exceptions. We have an over abundance of parents that's are the "participation, I'm entitled " parents that think everyone should bend over backwards for them and that give them everything without having to try or earn. For instance a dad around 25 yrs old came in dressed in ratty clothes, smelling of stale smoke, and was bringing his 2 Children in to be seen - the kids were dressed the same - and they were sick - his comment was, "how long is this going to take, my wife made me bring them in and I have to get back to my games in my xbox one. " this irritated me and I asked if he played sports or in any clubs like Boy Scouts when he was a kid. And he replied,"yes and I got a trophy every year!"
He asked why I was asking and I told him just curious. So I then asked what was more important his video games or his children and his reply was, " I guess the kids but I need to get back to my games, I don't have time for this hospital stuff."

I referee peewee up through varsity football also and I see the kids and parents that are there to teach their kids respect, team work, and hard work. Then I see the ones that have even made the comment, " I'm just out here because my parents want me to be." And parents that make comments like, " I would have done that and worked harder if I would have played." Also I have had many discussions with coaches about this participation reward for being there and they aren't allowed to give bigger trophies or higher awards for the ones that actually put forth the effort and try because it will upset or lower the esteem of the ones that don't want to try or think and have been raised to think that they deserve something for nothing. I agree it does carry over to the work place as some of your members have mentioned. I have been doing my job for 20 yrs and have 3 college degrees, teach others in our facility, am the one people go to for their questions from every department,but as I call them, kids that only have 3-4 yrs of experience and a certificate of completion can answer even the simplest question are wanting to make what it has taken me 20 yrs to make because they were raised in the participation reward for little or nothing and expect the most. When I played sports and was in school only the top few got the awards and trophies which made me want to work harder because that is what I wanted. I graduated 2nd in my class and continue my education today and save lives but yet a drop out or non educated person with no experience working In a fast food place or convenience store is making within 5 dollars does that make since? No that's telling kids and people that you don't have to try to be better you just have to breath and have a pulse pretty much.
If you want your child to have a participation award then teach them to earn it not just show up. It would make America better. Watch the movie "Idiocracy" and even though it was meant to be a comedy, look around you and see how much it is possible and if we continue with the "SOMETHING FOR NOTHING" attitude that's the way the world will be in the future.

Maleka Turner Giovinco

Which is why we now have kids who feel they are entitled!!!

You don't win; you don't get it!!

Trust me this method has worked for many many years!!!


Lol Millenials


I'm a personal trainer and I have a slightly different perspective on this. I competed in Olympic style weightlifting and often tell people that I just have a different relationship to failure than most people. I just failed and failed until I didn't. There is a huge payoff in showing up and it's not the ribbon. So the first lesson I'm teaching my son is how to lose and to see it as an opportunity. The ribbon gets in the way of that because it takes away the opportunity to focus on what there was to learn from the experience.

As a point of perspective, when my clients run a 5k, i'll jokingly ask if they won. Most of us who have run 'fun runs' have no earthly clue who won. That never even crossed our minds when we signed up. Like that - I want my son to focus on the experience, the opportunity, and the chance to be fearless - not the material gain or, in other words, a chance to 'get stuff'.

It's a subtle difference and I appreciate the point the author is making but I just see the ribbon as a distraction from the vital conversations about the importance of practice and what 'failure' really means. The reason why many of us are afraid to try - even as adults - is because we've created such a disempowering context in regards to 'losing'. I've lost in epic ways but it's only because I had the strength to show up. I want my son to understand how powerful he can be in the face of that but it's going to require weathering a failure or two.

Gwen Dorsett

Why can't young children participate for the fun of it? Why is a tangible reward required? After having raised two daughters with two totally different personalities and abilities, I can tell you that some children need more encouragement to try than others and a trinket won't do it. Verbal encouragement and praise must be sincere and factual. Today, there's too much exclaiming over minor accomplishments. Coloring a tree green rates a "nice" not a clapping "AWESOME!".
The writer who equates effort with being #1 has missed the obvious. The child who is a gifted athlete will win and may put forth less effort. But, that child is the best at that moment and deserves the #1 trophy. My child has an IQ of 130+ and can win most academic competitions with less effort than most other students. Should she be deprived of recognition because other children tried harder, but accomplished less? No one said life was fair. She wins.
I do think that in today's world where children are involved in so many formal activities that participation awards have their place. However, I agree with the writer that said that there must still be 1st - 3rd places. Age makes a difference. Let's not involve children in activities that require awards if they are too young. After a certain age, young people view participation awards as a waste of time and money. So don't give them. Gear the awards to the developmental level of the children involved.


I Disagree.

I believe that raising your kids should be training them to be well adjusted adults, while allowing them to have as much fun as possible, with out risking their safety or chances of becoming well adjusted.

My fear of participation awards is that it will dumb down expectations and rob the kids of really good life lessons. you need to learn how to lose and that losing sucks. that should drive one to work harder.

This can't be a 1 size fits all rule though, Younger kids and children with special needs probably benefit from participation awards up to a point. Older kids (8?) Can start learning that you don't get handed anything for just showing up. Younger kids need to find the fun in participating, the fun in trying and being with others.

Older kids need to continue to have fun, but also start to focus on results.

Win the game, lets take the team out for pizza.
Lose the big game, Lets schedule an extra optional practice, and then after the extra practice take them out for pizza, as a reward for "getting back on track"

my goal would be to have the kids a bit more results focused .

but my oldest is 3 so ... WTF do i know yet ? :)


I strongly disagree with Katie on this point.. Kids need to learn failure and how to handle it, learn from it and make themselves better.

I have a physical disability that when I grew up there were several sports I could not even play and in turn I was usually almost always last in any sport I tried. I grew up at a point when only the top kids got anything, and I just went home with nothing. Failing so many times actually drove me to find the areas that I could do well in. It was not until high school that I finally got my first trophy. Today I am one of the best in what I do today....I kept driving to become he best at what I do.

Even though I am great at what I do, I never look down to anyone else, because I know everyone can be great at something, they just need to be driven to find out what that is, and without failure they may never find the one great thing that they can do extremely well. If they think that just doing there best is enough then there is no drive to become the best at anything.


Ok, my parents did this to me as a child MADE me participate in sports that I HATED!! Yeah sure I go the cute participation ribbon and I smiled but I still HATED it!! I actually resent them for making me do things I DID NOT WANT TO DO!!!!! Now to the present.......my daughter rides/shows horses. I never made her do it and I have never made her do any other sport. If she asks about soccer, softball or such, then sure, we will look into it, but I am NOT doing to her what my parents did to me!!!!! I will not force something on her. She begs to ride to go to shows. I do NOT let her go up to get the participation ribbons. She gets a high five at end of her class and "i'm proud of you baby girl!" She beams with the biggest smile ever because she LOVES my approval and she loves riding that dang horse. But you know what, this girl works HARD to better herself, she is out there taking care of that horse. She rides daily to get better she has a passion for that horse!! She wants to go week after week even though she might not have received a ribbon last week, she wants to try again. I feel relieved that when she hits that age that "no more participation ribbons" are handed out that it won't matter to her, she's going to keep doing what she's been doing regardless and not expect to receive something just because she showed up.


I could only manage to get halfway through the article before I had to scroll down and search for a way to send my thoughts on your article directly to you and hopefully, some of the readers of your post.

This notion that all children deserve a participation trophy is not promoting long term benefits for our children. At best, it's short term gratification for both the parents and the children. What do our children learn by receiving the same reward as those that persevered and won? The learn that no matter what the outcome of the event is, they still are a winner. The winners achieve a trophy and also the excitement that comes from the win. The losers receive the exact same award without the euphoria of winning. Without that feeling, we are teaching our children that second, third place and last place is a perfectly acceptable place to be. Fewer and fewer kids come out of an event with the desire to be the best. I'm not talking about the best in the event, I'm talking about the best they can be.

The feeling that I received from the first half of your article is that no matter what the outcome, as long as our children are content, then all is well.

Ask any employer about the generation now entering the workforce. They will all tell you the same thing. It's all about the participation trophy now. No work ethic, no drive.

I'm a coach in youth hockey. Our hockey team just lost in the finals 7-6. They lost in overtime. They were down 6-1 in the second period. They came back and tied with 13 seconds left to go in the game. One of the team parents wanted to know why this team was not getting a trophy when several other teams from our program was getting them. It's because they won. And because we lost. Our children will remember the fight to tie a better team and the ultimately heartbreaking loss much longer than the soothingness of a medal that was not earned.

I am sorry to say but we are weakening our children, not strengthening them with our decisions.

Debora Rinehart

Does the participation item need to be a trophy? It was probably made in China. It was probably made by women who are forced to have birth control injections to keep their jobs. I wish that is what we would tell our children this in age appropriate ways. We don't collect trophies because they create landfill waste and someone makes them. Usually it is someone who left her or his life in a village to come to a big city to make the item. She or he no longer has a family around and life is very different. The person who made the trophy probably could not afford to buy the trophy after paying monthly expenses.

It is the event, the pictures, the race that matters. It is not a plastic ornament that will be dumped in a landfill after a young woman's fate is forever changed.


It is far more valuable for a child in the long run to learn the importance and value of working hard for accomplishment. It sets them up for success in life, rather than failure, which is what participation trophies have done for an entire generation in our society. I fully appreciate the wonderful sentiment and well-meaning of those who hand out participation trophies, and it's hard to fault people for wanting to make kids feel good in the moment. However, it does them a disservice in the long run. And that's what we should be focused on as we are loving and encouraging our children every step along the way - preparing them to have the best future possible. For those who fear a child will give up on something without a participation trophy, you shouldn't fear. When you award kids for something that isn't their forte, they very well may stick with it at the expense of something they may truly be good at. We should be encouraging them to try their hardest, and to stick with something they truly love, trophy or not (with trophies as an incentive to work even harder, if it's what they want). However, if not receiving a trophy is enough to make a kid quit, it likely means that event is not for them, and something that is a much better fit is still out there for them waiting to be found. Rather than awarding them for something that isn't their cup of tea and will only lead to disappointment when cuts are made on future teams, help them find what they truly excel at, and be their biggest cheerleader in whatever that is.


I don't see anything wrong for every child to receive a trophy were talking about five-year-olds here they're not in the major leagues it's all about participation and motivating them. If somebody tries their best and get either best you owe them their best to make them feel motivated about it I think it's absolutely disgusting that anybody would take something so seriously and just try to frustrate somebody just because they can that's actual psychological abuse you don't push people by trying to make them feel like you're never good enough you push them by motivating them with rewards yeah they don't get the reward if they don't do it but you know what if they do you don't withhold it by making up excuses. And you certainly don't manipulate situations to make them look like you've done something when it's that person's own efforts in life that I've been earned all by themselves never take credit for another person's achievements

Jim Jowsey

Do it the way the scouts do. The winners get the trophy, everyone gets the patch.

Have you seen some of these patch collections? Some of them are pretty awe inspiring. In many ways they end up meaning more than the trophy.


I think you're putting sports before other giftings here. When a person (or child) - if they are taught to self-reflect, that is - looks to the strengths that are within themselves (based on various experiences) and are encouraged to use them, it's not about being good in "one thing or another". Instead, it's about appreciating how they are uniquely created to accomplish things that others cannot. I recently observed a robotics competition where there were young students displaying all sorts of abilities for the cause. One couldn't hand saw an aluminum tube very well but could calculate algorithms! The next was great at the mechanical duties of the robot they built but didn't have a great "attention span". Another was well-versed at touring us around and explaining the program overall. Bottom line: We need all of us. It's not about the trophy as was stated. Let's dig a little bit deeper in the conversation with our children. Talk to them...they get it - it's instinct. Sometimes I think it's us who muddy the waters as we age. :)

B ob

Thank you, for not going along with the loud few.

Joe salemi

Hi Katie,
The entire arguement depends upon how old the children are developmentally. I coached kiddie basketball, taught my boy and girl to snow ski, paddle kayaks, camp. My son played baseball, basketball and soccer but was an all state water polo goalie in highschool. My daughter played basketball and dance and in highschool was captain of three time state champion flags-dance. Today my son snowboards like he is on TV and my daughter studies music business and performance at university. I am a Speech Pathologist and worked with children for about 10 of my 30 years in the field. I personally played hockey, highschool football and was a hurdler/sprinter. In college and as an adult, I studied karate where children were always present.

What I have seen from all of this is that until children are in about 5th grade, hard work is not what produces winners. In fact, there is such a huge differences between children developmentally and certain kids are just more ready to play such that a group of kids working equally hard will have performance levels all over the board.
Not only this but the "really good" 1st, 2nd ,3rd graders who work hard may not be at all "good" by the time they reach 6th grade. And the converse is true.

In fact even in High School, a kid who shines as a freshman may be surpassed by sophomore year and not always on the basis of the myth of "hardworking."

But if a child stays motivated and continues to work hard, then by 6,7 and 8th grade hard work and "talent" start to take hold and it is at this point that rewarding hard work begins to work more as expected.
But if a child is not rewarded for just going out and having fun and for "participating" that child may loose all motivation to be involved thereby passing opportunity to fully develop in their own path.

Also, by the time the child reaches that 5-6th grade, and they have had a wide range of exposure to various sports, the arts or other endeavors, they themselves find what they like and what they are good at. However, this effect is lost if the child does not have generally good and motivating experiences during those formative years when attachments are of utmost importance.

Therefore,the idea of rewarding children equally no matter "performance" is to keep all kids motivated in general by allowing them to all fit in, stay connected until they can figure out what they are good at. This way no one pushed out and everyone has a chance to develop and to have feeling of fitting into a community.


Good article. My daughter is not a natural athlete. She always loved to swim, but she was not someone who would be chosen to be on someone's team in PE. We were so glad she joined swim team in 5th grade. Attending practices and swimming laps with her team mates was great exercise. The coaches only placed her in one or two events each meet, and she came in last every time until the final meet. In her last event of the season, she beat the three other swimmers in her heat and received a "best in heat" ribbon. Three years letter, she still has that ribbon displayed in her room. I asked her recently if she was ready to take it down and store it, and she said, "not yet. It reminds me of the time I won."

David D

My 5 yr old son got upset after winning a race... He was upset because all the other kids that lost received the same award. I told him that they gave all the kids an award to make them feel better. I explained that some kids can't handle loosing because they are always rewarded for trying. He said they should work hard to win like he did. He asked me why should he work hard if all the other kids are going to get the same award. I went on to tell him that true champions and leaders do what it takes to be the best.....regardless of what others are doing or receiving.
The idea of participation awards is so similar to our welfare system in America. It rewards laziness and discourages hard work. I disagree with the idea that everyone is a winner because that isn't how life is. Some times you loose and some times you win.
You have to know what it feels like to loose and be without in order to create the hunger to win.
I competed for 17 years as a wrestler. 3 yrs in middle school, 4 yrs in HS, 5 yrs in college, 5 years internationally trying to make an Olympic & world team. I've trained and socialized with some of the most accomplished athletes in the history of the olympics and my opinions are not alone. Really don't care what the other liberal thoughts are.....and I never post on things but this silly movement is grossly effecting my Childerens generation.


It's pretty funny that it's controversial to give kids a trinket as a remembrance for participating in a sport or other activity that can span months of hard work, require showing up to practice multiple times a week, demand making a commitment to something, entail giving up other things, necessitate getting up weekend mornings for games, not going on a vacation during the season, not to mention all the parental logistics and sacrifices involved. Really? It's wrong for these kids to get a tiny statue or plaque commemorating the experience that the parents pay for anyway as part of the activity? Sure have a trophy to award the winners, but that in no way conflicts with having smaller items for the kids who worked just as hard and did their best. Those who want only to give the small percentage of kids who often win only because they are lucky enough to be gifted with more talent in one area through no action of their own and exclude the vast majority of everyone else as deserving sounds mean enough to come from those with no experience in this area, those with the lucky kids or those who are just plain hard asses who don't believe in giving kids a positive experience that can often motivate them to try again. As they say, winning isn't everything. It doesn't take away from the winners to recognize everyone for their commitment, hard work, perseverance, sportsmanship, teamwork, and sacrifice that really are much more important in the long run than what the score was.

Harold Rayfield

I think kids should get acknowledged for hard work by their coaches who can vouch for their effort. When I was younger, every player received a certificate for participation. However, trophies were reserved for top finishers.

When did protecting your child from failure mean you were being a good parent? I have learned more from my failures and adversity than I ever could when I succeeded.

Competition is a good thing and it can bring the best/worst out of people. But so can honesty and teaching kids that it's ok if you don't win every time and winning the game/trophy is not the only thing that they are working for. What about pride, integrity, dignity, and respect? There are no trophies for those intangible assets that our country seems to be lacking so desperately.


This article and the comments that come after show just how much the world has changed in my lifetime and not for the better. When my children started soccer, I was appalled at how every game ended in a tie. Most importantly, the children themselves were appalled, too. You can bet that they were keeping up with the number of goals scored and they clearly knew the final score and which team won. We are trying so hard so raise children in the protective bubble that we are completely ignoring their feelings. Kids want a winner and a loser. They don't want ties or participation trophies. As a middle-aged parent, I've been through my share of disappointments in life but you need those to try harder to become better. I see way more unhappiness with the up and coming generation than I did my own and it's because parents raise them in this Pollyanna bubble where everything is happy, everything is positive. Note to parents, when you are on top of the pedestal, there is no where to go but down. I raised my children with the knowledge that you lose far more than you win in life. That's what makes winning such a special feeling. If everyone wins all the time, then there isn't anything special about it. I must have done something right because my children are very happy people who don't have this entitlement attitude that is so prevalent now. They enjoy activities (including simple ones like board games with the family) for the competition and the chance of winning. While they love to win, they don't suffer this incredibly crushing blow to their self-esteem when they lose. I strongly feel that parents in this day and time are performing a strong disservice to their children by not letting them lose. It's the same message that was in the movie, "Inside Out", in that you need your negative emotions to be a complete person.

Edward Palumbo

Great idea, there should be no exceptionalism, it makes others feel bad.

Michael Schoch

Well, I believe that there should be trophies to what ever level the event host decides, but have each trophy labeled for the level finished the event. For example if there are 100 places given with trophies, then each should be labeled with the places finished from WINNER TO 2nd thru 100. I am now 72 and when I was a young bowler of 16, I participated in a National Event by American Junior Bowling Congress and finished 200th in the national event as was awarded with a trophy that had my name, event and the 200th place on it. This trophy stands with some other trophies as League champs, Pontiac Motor Division, Engineering Dept with year and my name on it as well as the belt and gold buckle from American Bowling Congress for the Eleven-in-a-Row Award for the one time in my life I had eleven strikes in a row out of a possible twelve strikes in one game. These are all together with others such as Class Winner, A Modified Production Class, Motor City Dragway, Detroit Michigan and more.
Bottom line, is that if multiple trophies are given which is fine for me, then each has the place of finish from .first place to 100th place if there are 100 trophies given, but NOT participation trophies as relative ranking is important not only as young, but as we get older and into business as well as sports. Leaders are separated later in life, just as they should be for youngsters. It is important to not only finish, but to strive for your own personal best as well as to have the goal to finish higher in the future which I believe we all should strive towards.


So, maybe the answer is not to give trophies at all? How about just an honest and sincere recognition of the "winners" and "participants" (by the coaches, parents and team mates) for what they bring to the field, whether it's good sportsmanship, a home run or a smiling face. Because, if we want to recognize children for their accomplishments and who they are, then lets do that. I don't think a plastic trophy or cheap ribbon can convey that message as well as words.

Mike Neel

Yes! For me, giving them participation awards like trophies or certificates are a good way to acknowledge their effort in joining it. But I agree that when it comes to a winner, they should provide a much noticeable and distinctive award to better recognise the extra effort that they’ve exerted to win that contest. Anyway, I really appreciate your post. From what I can gain, you are a really good parent! Keep it up!

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