The New York Times Debates the Merits of Youth Sports Participation Trophies
The Opinion Pages, a section of op-ed writing on The New York Times, tackled the debate of participation trophies in youth sports and the short entries are worth your time this afternoon. The topic itself has long-burned on the youth sports circuit, but as teams and parents get more competitive, the conversation is more alive than ever. And, unlike most other debatable topics, there’s a compelling case for each side in this argument — but what do you think? Below you’ll find the highlights of those in favor of participation trophies and those against it — give them a read and then remember to vote in our poll afterwards!
Forget Trophies, Let Kids Know It’s O.K. to Lose by Ashley Merryman
This is a destructive message, because how we react to kids’ failure is just as crucial as celebrating their success. A recent study found if parents thought failure was debilitating, their kids adopted that perspective. If parents believed overcoming failure and mistakes made you stronger, then their children believed it, too. Thus letting kids lose, or not take home the trophy, isn’t about embarrassing children. It’s about teaching them it can take a long time to get good at something, and that’s all right.
In Youth Sports, Participation Trophies Send a Powerful Message by Parker Abate
Self-esteem is a big part of one’s childhood. Watching a peer receive a trophy and not receiving one yourself can be degrading. Any kind of honor can make a young kid feel as if he or she meant something to the team, and that could boost the child’s self-confidence — children today need as much of that as they can get in our society. Let’s give the winners a trophy and the participants a certificate, or give them all small trophies. These kids dedicate time, effort and enthusiasm, and they deserve to have something tangible to make them feel that their participation was worthwhile. It could be the only form of athletic recognition they ever receive.
Participation Trophies Send a Dangerous Message by Betty Berdan
Trophies for all convey an inaccurate and potentially dangerous life message to children: We are all winners. This message is repeated at the end of each sports season, year after year, and is only reinforced by the collection of trophies that continues to pile up. We begin to expect awards and praise for just showing up — to class, practice, after-school jobs — leaving us woefully unprepared for reality. Outside the protected bubble of childhood, not everyone is a winner. Showing up to work, attending class, completing homework and trying my best at sports practice are expected of me, not worthy of an award. These are the foundations of a long path to potent
So, what do you think?