Why I believe in the participation trophy

Nothing seems to get more disdain from Internet commentators than the participation trophy. “It’s unearned,” people say. “It creates a generation of entitled kids,” chime in others.

So, I’m going to stick out my neck here at the risk of being called a “snowflake” (haha) and say I am a firm believer in the participation trophy.


Well, there are several reasons. One of my biggest reasons is that I’ve seen kids with disabilities BEAM after getting their trophy. That, alone, is enough for me to support them.

But it’s more than that …

These are generally only given out during elementary school youth sports. At that level, we’re trying to teach kids to stick out projects that they start, even if they are hardeven if they want to quit at first. See it through to the end.

During sports season, I see kids come back day after day in the freezing cold, hot sun, or pouring rain putting in HOURS upon HOURS of hard work. Why? So they can be part of something bigger than themselves – so they can be part of a TEAM.

Youth sports are built on the themes of sportsmanship, TEAMwork, and being brave enough to try something new. It’s interesting that these very skills are ones that most employers say they value in their employees.

These young kids spend day in and day out WORKING, all season long. Not the most athletically gifted on the team? You still have to do the sprints, push-ups in the heat, drills, etc – and you will work harder at those drills since you weren’t naturally gifted in athletics. There’s a reason they hand these things out at the end of the season. You didn’t “just show up” and get one.

Perseverance. Hard Work. Bravery. Teamwork.

These are things I want my child to learn from an early age, and getting a participation trophy at the end of the season reinforces that even though it was a tough season – you didn’t quit. You stuck with it. And you kept going. You have grit. 

That is worth rewarding.

And finally, I often hear “you don’t get a participation trophy as an adult!” Well, I beg to differ. Here I stand, with my husband, and our participation trophies for the HARD WORK we put in to complete our first 26.2 mile race – a marathon. We earned that medal. As do our hard-working kids who also finish the race (or season).

Never, ever, ever, ever give up.


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