Studies reported to Evan Grossman of Men’s Journal have shown that the generation of people reaching adulthood now are considered a bunch of “self-obsessed, irresponsible, and unmotivated generation of false achievers. ” What could have caused this? A huge cause of this is what is known as the “self-esteem movement” according to Evan Grossman of Men’s Journal. Kids are given rewards and trophies for participation and maybe even just showing up to simply build their confidence.
Participation awards may build confidence but it is also a huge issue in our society. These rewards are giving kids the feeling of success even if they haven’t done anything to achieve success. This is teaching kids to be complacent and it is preventing them from properly learning how to deal with adversity. Even though participation trophies build confidence, they do not teach a kid how to deal with failure and adversity. To fix this, there must be a good set of team values provided or made by every team.
Next, kids must be rewarded based on their efforts to meet the team’s values not just simply showing up. Lastly, kids will be rewarded on their success. The debate over participation trophies has become a widespread social issue in the United States, with many people unaware of the detrimental impact it has on the nation’s youth. According to a study done by Reasons Magazine 57% of Americans believe trophies should only be given out to winners.
However, the younger generation; often called ‘Millennials’ tend to not agree with the majority. The Washington Post dubbed the under 25 years old age group the “participation trophy generation. ” The 18-24 age group is the only group out of six that is more in favor of participation trophies rather than trophies only for the winners, with the 25-34 age group in a close second. The chart provided by Reasons Magazine and Rupe polling clearly shows the younger the age the more in favor that person is of participation trophies.
While giving out participation trophies may seem like a rewarding gesture for children, the consequences it has on those children is quite unrewarding. Children are more likely to develop narcissistic traits such as superiority and entitlement, as well as not learn valuable lessons like losing being a part of life and hard work being necessary to succeed. The general public would even agree because Reasons Magazine reported “65% of Americans say Millennials are ‘Entitled,’ 58% of Millennials agree.
Receiving a trophy for just showing up makes the trophy become an idol in the eyes of children and if every child is given one no matter the effort and commitment to the sport, where is the incentive to put forth effort? Lisa Heffernan, a TODAY contributor wrote in an article “participation trophies tell them that what really matters is showing up for practice, learning the rules and rituals of the game and working hard. ” How do participation trophies teach children to show up, learn the rules and work hard if every child gets one no matter how often they showed up or how much effort put forth?
These lessons that are not taught at an early age because of participation trophies are compounded into a person’s professional life. Believing that trying hard to succeed is not necessary is the thinking these children will have, and that thinking will never make a person successful. There is no learning from mistakes and no growth from them when rewarded just for participating. Know that it is okay to teach children that not everyone is a winner all the time, it is a hard lesson to teach at a young age, but necessary to learn at this stage in life.
In the long run, if something is not done now to stop the giving of participation trophies parents and coaches will be creating a group of adults that may become criminals, junkies, or bullies. In chapter 7 of The Achievement Habit, Roth says that “It’s important to learn to be motivated to do your best, regardless of what happens around you” (Roth 171). Children need to be exposed to experiences that have supportive coaches and role models so that they develop a sense of excitement and commitment without the discouragement of defeat.
Young people who participate in group activities should be taught the T. E. A. M. -”Together Everyone Accomplishes More” (anonymous), which celebrates the cooperation of the whole team winning, more than competition of just one person being the best. Hard work and personal achievements can still be rewarded without hurting relationships, lowering standards and creating a world of mediocrity. On a local level, parents and coaches both should be educated on the harmful effects that rewarding participation can have.
Those in charge of the sports activities here in Sterling should focus on getting today’s youth passionate about the sport they are involved in. Many of the sports available for young children are run by an organization, but do not set guidelines for the parent coaches to follow. A standard set of values that deserve recognition should be provided to the volunteers who guide young athletes. Each team could have an end of the season dinner or get together, where each child’s biggest accomplishment gets recognized.
Recognizing individual achievements gives each child an actual realistic confidence booster that they can be proud of. Having each teammate say something nice or constructive about someone else would build the relationships between team members and create a stronger community. The team t-shirts that are given to each player at the beginning of the season are a great momento of the child’s involvement in the sport, participation trophies are unnecessary.