As a child, I remember receiving medals for merely participating in a sport. Was I thrilled then? Of course I was. It was a great feeling to earn a medal or trophy for something. As I grew older and more competitive, I began to get annoyed when everyone would get a trophy. What’s the fun in that? Why should everyone get a trophy when I did better? Why were the losers still receiving a trophy?
Everyone getting a trophy says to some kids that you don’t need to try in order to do well. As long as you attend, you win because all that matters is that you were there. This “everyone gets a trophy” mentality has started to last longer than it should. We should not still be giving participating trophies in middle school, and definitely not in high school.
I see why people support this mentality, and why it occurs. These trophies are considered a good idea because parents feel it helps children want to continue and hopefully gain a passion for it. However, I have one question for you. How do you plan on having that strategy work in real life? In college courses, you won’t just receive an A for going to class, nor will you get a raise at your job for just being there. You will receive an A for doing everything expected of you and then some. You’ll get a raise by going above and beyond, and making sure you’re doing your job the best.
In the real world, you get out of something what you put into it, so why are we giving trophies for just showing up? Why does just participating earn a child a trophy? When did the world change from doing everything in your power to achieve a goal to just trying to get by?
A survey done last year by Reason Magazine showed that 57 percent of people believe only winners should receive trophies. These statistics did differ based on age, income and political status. However, it still shows that over half of the participants in the survey believe you shouldn’t get a trophy for merely participating. So why are we still giving out participation trophies?
I fully support young children getting trophies for participating, at least before you turn 6. Before that age, getting a medal or trophy for participating encourages kids to continue and try and be better. It causes them to feel a part of something, and being so young it most likely won’t have an impact on them for the rest of their lives. However after a certain point you start to sincerely believe that you don’t need to try hard in order to get praise, and that just by participating you are “winning.”
The generations currently in high school and middle school are becoming less and less motivated, and expecting good things to come to them. Not as many kids want to work really hard to get what they want, they just expect it to happen by merely participating. A big part of that comes from the fact that they were all given trophies as a child encouraging them just to attend and they will be rewarded.
Jean Twenge, author of “Generation Me,” studied recent increases in narcissism and entitlement among college students. She warns, “when living rooms are filled with participation trophies, it’s part of a larger cultural message: to succeed, you just have to show up… In the office, they still believe that attendance is all it takes to get a promotion.”
Not only does it cause some children to think they don’t need to try, it also causes the ones who work their butt off to get discouraged. How does their first place trophy mean anything if everyone got one anyway?