Why participation trophies must be eliminated

Remy Abrams

More stories from Remy Abrams

May 17, 2021
Trophies, while nice, may not always be necessary.

Trophies, while nice, may not always be necessary.

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Congratulations! You are receiving a trophy for showing up to practice!

Adulthood is only an extension of your experiences as a child. As we grow up, self-esteem is one of the most important personality traits that an individual can obtain. If you want to build your self-esteem, you have to do things that make you proud. When awards are given out to kids like candy, they decrease in value and lack the ability to build one’s self-esteem. As time will show, it is clear that people appreciate rewards for things that are more difficult to achieve.

The key to gaining self-confidence is to work hard. Sitting back and expecting to be rewarded for actions that require little to no effort is setting oneself up for failure in the future. When one player is given a trophy at the end of a season and is known to have performed very well, and then another player is given the same trophy for just participating with no effort, the player that performs extremely well may ask themselves, “Do I really need to work hard, when my teammates, who only give half the effort that I do, also received the same trophy?” Unfortunately, the participation trophy teaches kids that effort and belief in oneself are not important and that they will be rewarded regardless of their performance.

Winning a trophy collects five minutes of pride and a lifetime of dust, but giving 100 percent and finishing what you started collects a lifetime of irreplaceable self-confidence. Success loses value when one is constantly rewarded for actions that require no effort. The participation trophy is not satisfying to players as it diminishes the pride in winning. Winning means willing to go longer, work harder and give more than anyone else. In fact, losing is also good as it teaches you that you sometimes need to work harder to achieve your goals. Participation trophies capture the fulfillment from the winners and give the unsuccessful side an undeserving amount of success.

Receiving a trophy for losing and showing a lack of effort is exposing millennials to false advertising of the real world. Outside the protected bubble of childhood, not everyone is a winner. As we grow up, showing up for class, completing homework and trying our best in sports become expectations rather than actions worthy of an award. In the real world, there are no sympathy awards. The harder you work for something, the greater you will feel when you achieve it.

Nothing worth having comes easy. Success comes from effort and hard work, not a meaningless participation trophy. Every single accomplishment comes with the decision to try. Unmotivated people should not be recognized for the same thing as motivated people. The longer and harder you work for something, the more you appreciate it when you get it. Ultimately, participation trophies must be eliminated as a norm carried throughout the society we live in today.