The Participation Trophy

Tina Wong

As an athlete, I have competed on local recreation center teams and the Las Vegas High School swim team. There is nothing like a first place ribbon that makes you want to try harder than the next person, or simply try to better yourself.

However, as my competing years have gone on, everyone is doing away with placement ribbons and trophies. They would much rather just give everyone a participation award so that way no one’s feelings are hurt. This to me is so backwards and not at all beneficial and I am not the only one who thinks this. James Harrison, linebacker for the Steelers, has made very clear his stance on the issue. On Pro Football Talk he stated that,

“ I came home to find out that my boys received two trophies for nothing, participation trophies! While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them till the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy. I’m sorry I’m not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned and I’m not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best….cause sometimes your best is not enough, and that should drive you to want to do better…..not cry and whine until somebody gives you something to shut you up and keep you happy.”

This is a very powerful quote in my opinion, and I could not agree with it more. This is exactly how I feel about the issue. Too many kids nowadays are being raised where if they whine enough they get what they want. This includes getting the same award as every other athlete, even if they all did not work as hard as one another. Many others have gone along with Harrison’s thinking.  Psychology Today stated that the feeling of winning and someone telling you that YOU are the best is what really makes you want to do better; giving out participation awards does  nothing to help you move forward in what you are doing.

I believe this “we are all winners” attitude will carry on in a person’s life and into the workplace. If people go into the workplace thinking that everyone is even and on the same playing field, they are in for a rude awakening. Because all throughout life there will be some people that are better than others. That is just a fact of life. Some people want it more than others, so they will try as hard as they can to out do the other person so they can get what they want.