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The Damage of Participation Trophies

Hannah Mills, Opinion Contributor

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From the very first time that I received a participation trophy, I felt that it was doing me an injustice. That injustice was not only for me though, it was for all the other kids around me who were receiving the same trophy. As a kid I knew I was never the best player, so I was never on the winning team, but that was only motivation to get better and push myself further. Yet, I could sense that my teammates around me did not feel the same way. My teammates knew that at the end of the season they would be handed a trophy for just being there. Handing a child a trophy only because they participated a trophy is basically saying that it does not matter that other people are better, what matters is that that child joined a team.

Trophies are for winners, people who truly worked their hardest and pushed passed everyone else. Trophies are not for people who showed up and worked a little, but did not get anywhere. It does not matter how hard someone works, a trophy should only be handed to the best. Of course, working hard is important and it definitely means that a person pushed themselves, but not that they did not push passed anyone else.

The main idea behind a participation trophy is that it will boost a child’s self esteem. But the best way to boost a child’s self esteem is letting them fail and find their way to the top. Without failure, the most brilliant people in the world would be nowhere. Thomas Edison failed a thousand times before he was able to invent the light bulb. He was never given a trophy for trying each time, but instead he was rewarded when he was finally able to achieve a goal. Thomas Edison even said “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.” Every failure is one step closer to a great achievement. Besides of handing a child a trophy each time they fail, show the child that a failure can lead to something great. The failure in itself is trophy, for it leads to a great accomplishment.  

Looking into the future, think about all of these children who have been given a trophy for only showing up, what will happen to them when they get to the real world and expect the same thing to happen? What would it be like if people were handed trophies everyday when they showed up for work? Without encouraging kids to keep trying and pushing themselves until they have reached their goals will ultimately lead them to thinking that there does not need to be any aspirations for their lives.

Motivation and competition are good for the world. People need to feel the pressure from others, they need to feel like if they do not accomplish their goal, then someone else will swoop in a take their spot. After all the world is basically the survival of the fittest. Those who are able to push themselves and push passed others to get to their goals are the true winners and are the true participants in the world.

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The Damage of Participation Trophies