Writer. Advice giver. Peanut butter and chocolate enthusiast.

In Defense of Participation Trophies

If there’s one symbol that represents what many believe is the softening of our society, it’s the participation trophy — those meaningless mounts of plastic given to every member of a youth sports team, regardless of accomplishment.

If you didn’t do anything to earn it, the thinking goes, how can you appreciate it?

While I believe in that sentiment in the abstract, it’s missing the mark here.

After all, to receive a participation trophy, you do have to do something:


And that’s an accomplishment in and of itself.

This was the point made by comedian Adam Carolla on the podcast I was listening to this morning. And I agree with him.

If you commit to your teammates, and you show up for practice and compete in the games and complete the season, you should be applauded.

And you should take pride in that — in starting a task and seeing it through to the finish.

Now, I also have no problem with handing out awards such as “Most Valuable Player” or “Best Defender” or any other performance-based accolades.

Excellence is commendable, and kids should be encouraged to strive for it.

This is the value of youth sports. Beyond the camaraderie and competition and Capri Suns, they present endless lessons children can absorb and apply as they get older in every facet of life.

And what better, more important lesson is there to learn than this:

Get in the game.


This originally appeared on 100 Naked Words.

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