Participation Trophies: Self-esteem Boosters or Motivation Killers?

In today’s world of youth sports, participation trophies are awarded to young athletes more often than not, it seems. No matter if the kids won or lost the season or even a single game, the same golden trophies are awarded to each and every child. In some cases, even the children who showed up to just one practice or even not at all receive a trophy.

Parents and coaches who support giving out participation trophies to young athletes say that they want the kids to feel “special”. They say that each child deserves the trophy for simply working as part of the team and finishing the season. Every kid should be a winner. According to Ashley Merryman, in her article titled Forget the Trophies, Let Kids Know it’s OK to Lose, participation trophies are giving kids the total wrong message. It is telling them losing is so horrible that it just can’t happen. Parents and coaches may not want to hurt kids feelings, but in my opinion, they need to look at the bigger picture.

If kids are awarded participation trophies all throughout their childhood, think of how their mindset will be later on in their high school, college, and adult lives. They will think that simply showing up and putting in some sort of effort entitles them to some kind of award. Kids need to know that losing is OK. Losing and making mistakes is what builds you up and enables you to improve and really succeed, not only as an athlete, but as a student, employee, and many other areas. Youth sports are something where kids develop work ethic, teamwork skills, character, and determination. That all is taken away if participation trophies take the stage. Life doesn’t just hand out awards for trying, and so neither should youth sports.

Reference Articles:


One thought on “Participation Trophies: Self-esteem Boosters or Motivation Killers?

  1. I agree with you about participation trophies ruining the true meaning of working hard. I feel the same way that kids need to learn at a young age to accept the fact of not getting a trophy for trying if they are unable to win. It just means that they have to work harder to get that trophy they want and when they get it the feeling of winning will feel much more special.


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