Are participation trophies in sports hurting our youth? The answer is yes, yes they are.

As the end of a season rolls around in youth sports lots of money is poured into creating trophies. But these trophies are not only given to the team that comes out victorious, they are given to every single player in the league. Can you imagine losing every game in a season and still receiving a trophy? By doing this it gives the same rewards to the losers and the winners and takes the incentive of winning away. This teaches kids at a young age that losing is ok and that winning isn’t as special. It also teaches you that minimal effort gets you the same reward as working hard. “After a certain age, those participation trophies need to stop being a thing. The simple reason is it teaches an attitude where effort gets you a reward and in the real world that is simply not true,”.

The reality is that the world does not give everyone the same reward. The people that work the hardest generally get the best rewards and by teaching these kids otherwise, it creates problems later in life. “Giving kids these ages participation trophies creates a stigma where they can settle on their “lack” of success, or maybe their “oh-so close” success of fourth place or even fifth. They can then get complacent by choice and create an attitude of “meh I tried, where is my reward”.” This lack of effort can be applied anywhere in life, in schooling and eventually in the workplace. If all of our generations to come are going to be like this, what is our society going to look like in the future?

What can we do about this? I think that we need to stop giving away participation trophies after preschool years. I feel that once a kid has reached the age of 7 or 8 they have a solid idea that participation trophies are given to everyone, this is the age that they start to figure out what winning and losing is and get their competitive edge. Also if participation trophies are eliminated by this age, the kids are still young enough to learn that they need to work harder, play better, etc. This allows lots of growth to happen while the children are smart enough to figure out their motives.

Participation trophies in youth sports are hurting our children more than they do help and these kid’s futures could be directly affected by this. We need to rethink what these trophies actually do to kids, because they are not as trivial and meaningless like we might think. We need to get rid of them and take a new approach to youth athletics because like many sports do, they teach life lessons along with x’s and o’s.


CC BY-SA 4.0 Are Participation Trophies in Sports Hurting Our Youth? by Casey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


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Youth Voices is organized by teachers at local sites of the National Writing Project and in partnership with Educator Innovator.

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