The Participation Trophy Debate

Posted on: March 13th, 2020 | by Laura Murdoch | No Comments

Young female footballer winning a football trophy

There’s something of a debate in the world of youth sports and one that rages particularly strongly in the US. This debate revolves around the handing out of participation trophies. Plenty of people believe the practice has led to a generation of entitled and needy young people. However, there is an equally strong counter-argument that suggests giving out participation trophies is beneficial to youngsters. So, what does each side say and should we worry about it?

 

The Argument Against

The people who speak out against participation trophies believe that they set children on a dangerous path. Handing out a trophy for every player is seen as being overprotective and mollycoddling. It will put children on the path to entitlement and apathy.

Instead of participation trophies, sports psychologist Dan Gould suggested that it was best to find alternative ways to motivate children. “For rewards to work, they need to be earned. If you’re trying to increase a kid’s motivation, emphasize health or emphasize how fun it is to move or play ball.” Instead of trying to bribe children with rewards, it is better to keep their focus on internal rewards instead.

A popular argument against participation trophies is that they may cause players to stop trying. The theory is that they will expect to be rewarded regardless of the effort they put in. If a child knows that they get a reward anyway, they might as well not try. This also presents worries for the players that do work hard every week. Critics of participation trophies believe that they will see their efforts being undervalued. They won’t see it as being fair if everyone around them gets an award without trying as hard.

 

The Argument For

On the other hand, there are plenty of people who believe that rewarding everybody’s efforts is a good thing. As we discussed in last week’s blog post, winning can help set children up for future wins. Child psychologists believe that there are huge benefits to positive reinforcement, especially in young children. Players will get a sense of accomplishment and feel more connected to the sport. Handing out a trophy to everyone promotes a sense of teamwork by showing that everybody plays a part in the team’s successes or losses.

Psychology professor, Kenneth Barish has suggested that only giving trophies to the winners “doesn’t emphasize enough of the other values that are important.” Children need to remember that sport isn’t just about being the best but it’s about learning new skills, leading an active lifestyle, and being part of a team. Participation trophies are something that children can cherish and help them feel as though they are part of a team.

The argument for participation trophies is that they will encourage children to put in more effort next season. All children should be shown that putting in the effort is something to be praised. This shows them that there is more to life than just winning.

 

Young girl winning a holding trophy and medal

 

It’s all about balance

Ultimately, when it comes to rewarding young children, there should be a middle ground. Children who are overpraised will potentially run into problems in their future. However, kids who are told that life is only about winning or losing will also have issues. That’s why it’s important to find the right balance.

The effectiveness of participation trophies comes down to the person handing them out. It all depends on what they stand for. Children want to progress in the game if trophies are given as evidence of skills, development, and hard work. Kids may want to give up the sport if they feel that they aren’t being recognised. They might believe that there is no way that they will catch up with them and quit.

Also, there is the question of how entitled a child would become just because of a few sporting awards. Children need to understand that they won’t always succeed but there will be plenty of chances to learn this. A few participation awards won’t completely alter a child’s view of the world. They could help confirm their love of the sport. Football is competitive, so they will experience success and failure in matches. Surely, having a solid base for teamwork and self-confidence will make these future defeats easier to take?

Of course, there is an argument for not taking it too far. There will be a certain age where participation trophies will stop being as effective. Children still need to understand that they can’t always win. Handing out awards for little or no effort is just not helpful. Of course, the focus should always be fun and enjoyment. Whether you use participation trophies or not, you need to instil a love of the game in your players. A strong basis in teamwork, hard work, and development will give them a good start for their future.

 

Pendle Trophies

Are you looking for ways to reward your players? We have a great range of trophies, cups, and medals to chose between. You’ll find more than enough options for you. Get them all at fantastic prices so you can be sure you won’t ruin your budget. Check out our range of football trophies now.

 

Pendle Sportswear New Football Trophies

 

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