Are participation trophies good or bad?


Terren in Virginia/CC BY 2.0

Many young athletes earn trophies simply for participating in team sports, but unearned accolades can do more harm than good.

As a kid, receiving a participation trophy can give one a feeling of accomplishment. Whether it was for finishing a baseball or soccer season along with the rest of the team, to even dance recitals, this is an award that most kids have received at one point in their lives. But are participation trophies a good or bad thing? 

Some people argue that they are good because it can make one feel good about themselves because it values their hard work and dedication for contributing to a team. It might also have been the first commitment one has had to make, even after years of collecting participation trophies it can also show a long commitment one has made throughout the years. These can also be confidence boosters to younger kids because the trophies might encourage them to do better in the future and upcoming seasons. It is also exciting for kids to receive something special after completing what they had a part of. 

Others might argue that participation trophies are bad because kids may never get to experience failure or learn from their mistakes. If athletes see others succeed it might motivate them to work harder and maybe even become better than they are. Others believe that kids should work for their recognition and awards, it should not be just handed to them. It could also be unfair to other teammates as well. Some might work harder and give more of an effort, while others might slack off and not show the same determination and motivation to progress and get better. 

As athletes grow in their age and their sport participation trophies do not mean as much as they once did. Eventually, there are higher and more advanced awards that athletes can work for, ones that aren’t given to each player on the team. These types of things will show which athletes are hard-working and willing to step up to advance in their field and skill levels. Things such as scholar-athlete awards, or even scholarships for college.

Something that most high school athletes have the opportunity to receive is letters. These are given to athletes that reach a certain requirement within their season. Most of these will later be put onto a letterman jacket that one might receive. Not everyone receives letters, some might receive their first one their freshman year, while others might not get their first one until their junior year. Receiving participation trophies as a kid is fun and exciting, but after a while it gets boring and might just feel like a yearly ritual.