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Do Participation Awards Make Kids Feel Entitled?

Trystyn Whytock, Reporter

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When you walk into the room of somebody that has played a sport for a long time what do you see? Well, if you see tons and tons of trophies it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are an incredible athlete because these days, you can get a trophy just for showing up. The “trophies for all” rule takes part in a change that has engulfed youth sports over the past twenty years. Back when your parents were learning how to shoot a hoop, team life could be overwhelming. Then, coaches often openly favored star athletes, and players would many times spend entire games sitting on the bench. Nowadays everybody gets equal playing time AND a trophy for showing up. But what’s the point of trying to get better if you know that if you show up and participate, you are guaranteed a trophy? People should not earn trophies for showing up because it takes away internal motivation, it gives the wrong message, and it takes away the meaning of trophies.

First, everyone should not be able to earn a trophy for showing up because it takes away the internal motivation of children. According to Michele Borba, “Those unearned accolades also make kids hooked on those rewards. There goes the internal motivation and the joy of doing your best.” Meaning, what’s the point of trying if people get congratulated for showing up and breathing? Also, Micah Nisley, a program director for leagues in Northeastern tarrant county states, “It is important to have a winner and a loser, but that shouldn’t be the only focus. The main focus should be to learn how to play sports…  and be a part of a team.” In other words, kids should not be focused on the prize, they should be focused on doing your best and what it feels like to improve. Internal motivation is a huge part in a child’s future and therefore is a crucial thing to have in life, which is also why children should have to earn trophies.

Next, everyone should not be able to earn trophies for showing up because kids will give up at the first sign of difficulty. According to Evan Grossman, “ inflated self-esteem has been found in criminals, junkies, and bullies.” In other words, children are going to become bullies and will not have a bright future because they will not have good self esteem, they will think they deserve everything but when they don’t get what they want, it rips away their confidence. Travis Armideo states, “No one is going to simply hand you the life you want, you need to work hard to get the rewards you desire.” Which means that you have to work for the things you want in life, nobody is going to give you a free pass through life, you have to work just as hard as everyone else. Everyone should not get trophies because kids will collapse at the first sign of difficulty.

Lastly, everyone should not be able to earn trophies for showing up because it takes away the meaning of trophies. Some people think that kids will be devastated if they don’t get a trophy, but that’s a good life lesson to teach them that it’s not about the trophy it’s about improvement. John O’Sullivan states, “When you’re constantly giving a kid a trophy for everything they’re doing, you’re saying, ‘I don’t care about improvement. I don’t care that you’re learning from your mistakes. All we expect is that you’re always a winner.’” This teaches kids to feel entitled to things which is not something that will get you far in life, a better virtue would be good-sportsmanship because that teaches you to be motivated to do your best even if you don’t get a big shiny trophy. As Ashley Merryman stated in a recent interview, “The benefit of competition isn’t actually winning. The benefit is improving.” This mean that even if you don’t win, you still improved and that is the only thing that really matters. Everyone should not be awarded trophies because it takes away the true meaning of trophies.

In conclusion people should not earn trophies for showing up because it takes away internal motivation, kids will collapse at the first sign of difficulty, and it takes away the meaning of trophies. Many kids nowadays are entitled and think they should win every time, but reality is going to hit them very hard if we let this go on for much longer. We need to only give them trophies when they are earned and worked hard for.  How rude would it be if you worked very hard for something and won, but the person that got second came up to you and said ‘You didn’t deserve that, I was better then you…? That would just make you feel bad and feel like you shouldn’t have earned that big shiny trophy you have longed for. 

For more information, check out the following links:

 

  1. http://www.mensjournal.com/adventure/races-sports/how-participation-trophies-are-making-our-kids-soft-20150725
  2. https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2016/10/06/should-every-young-athlete-get-a-trophy/participation-trophies-send-a-dangerous-message
  3. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/26/learning/do-we-give-children-too-many-trophies.html?_r=0

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Do Participation Awards Make Kids Feel Entitled?