I read this article about kids and trophies and just had to post it.


4 Responses to “I read this article about kids and trophies and just had to post it.”

  1. November 10, 2009 at 9:40 AM

    I counted my son’s soccer trophies the other day. Buried under a thick layer of dust and boyhood detritus on his bookshelf were 23 trophies in various shapes and sizes. Looking at all that hardware, you’d think we’re raising the next Pele.

    And those are just the soccer trophies. He’s got t-ball, basketball, and flag football trophies, too. Counting the box full of his oldest ones packed away in the garage somewhere, I figure he’s won about as many sports trophies as my entire generation combined.

    All of the trophies are made of cheap plastic with fake woodgrain or marble bases and metallic paint flaking off sports figurines displaying impossibly correct throwing, passing or shooting form.

    They look impressive, but as soon as you pick one up, you get the feeling you’d better put it back down gently before something breaks off. Basically, the trophies are a bunch of a word we try not to use around my son much.

    Sooner or later, that bunch of “word” is going to end up in a landfill. If I don’t do it first, the woman he marries most certainly will. All those trophies take up a lot of space and besides, there’s nothing more pathetic than a grown man desperately clinging to the dubious accomplishments of his youth. Wait did I just write that out loud?

    The sad thing is, it’s not just my son. According to the Internet (which I have no reason to question when it serves my purposes), an estimated 48 million five-to 17-year-olds played organized youth sports in the U.S. in 1995. There’s probably at least a couple more million playing now. If we give 50 million kids, say, two trophies a year, and the trophies are 15 inches tall on average, they’d nearly reach around the world at the equator. The last thing the earth needs from us right now is an equatorial ring of trophy junk every year. What a waste. Someone should get a red card for this.

    And they’re not just junk, they’re pointless junk. Most of my son’s trophies are participation trophies. Those are just for showing up, even if your best play of the season was taking a ball in the face off a penalty kick. Show up, and you get a trophy. Show up once in a while, have a crummy attitude, play lousy, and you still get a trophy. What’s so special about that? The truth is, after about half a dozen trophies, they all start to lose any meaningful significance.

    It turns out, kids play sports for fun. In fact, in a survey of the top 10 reasons why kids play sports, they listed having fun as their No. 1 reason. I found this out on the Internet, too. It’s definitely true for my son, although the most fun for him is finding a stick during practice and chasing his teammates around the field with it.

    My guess is that 99.99 percent of kids would play sports even if we didn’t hand out any trophies. They’d probably have just as much fun, too. Sure, they’d cry foul at first because they’re used to us rewarding them for any effort regardless of outcome. But they’d get over it eventually. In the meantime, there are always the post-game snacks to sugar them up and keep them happy.

    So even though banning youth sports trophies would be good for the environment and the kids really don’t need them, I doubt it will happen; the trophy industry is too entrenched. But I’m still hoping I can get my son to part with his collection before it becomes a future marital issue.

    I’m going to keep my 2007 “Coach of the Year” plaque, though. It’s made of real wood and I’ll probably never get another one. Especially if the players on my team read this.

  2. 2 John
    November 11, 2009 at 9:34 AM

    When we were kids the only ones who got trophies were guys whose teams came in 1st place and guys who were selected to All Star games. That might sound harsh to some people but it made getting them that much more special. If you did not recieve one it did provide some motivation to go out and try to practice a little more and work a little harder. Is that a bad thing? I don’t ever want to see a little boy or girls hopes crushed by not getting a trophy..yet can’t you give a certificate of participation? My son has recieved as many game balls and trophies as I had recieved by the time I was 18. I just think it means more when you EARN one..I even think the children figure that out.

  3. 3 Gisela
    November 12, 2009 at 1:27 PM

    Yes, this is that “All Must Have Prizes” mentality so brilliantly decimated by the UK’s Melanie Phillips in her book of the same name. And who do we think we’re kidding? Certainly not the children who takes home trophies they know very well mean zilch.

  4. November 12, 2009 at 1:54 PM

    on one hand, I have to admit that there’s nothing wrong with simply recognizing the kids who achieve for what they are. They are better than the other kids at a certain activity and certainly deserve the credit and recognition.

    Second point is even more valid. Does anyone think these kids don’t know what’s going on? Do we really think they’re that gullible?

    Making sure a kid understands AND internalizes WHY he/she didn’t get a trophy and that there is no reason why they can’t get one next time if they work hard, is part of being a good coach and/or parent.

    Do you really want your kid to think that he/she will be rewarded for minimal effort further along in life?

    I’ve been against this for decades and I’m glad that others feel the same way.

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