Should children receive a participation trophy simply for participating in a sport or other activity? Pittsburgh Steelers star and parent James Harrison says, “No.” But what do other parents and experts think?
James Harrison to to Instagram with his thoughts about his children receiving a participation trophy with the following,
“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 u up and keep you happy. #harrisonfamilyvalues”
As of writing, there were over 2000 comments about #harrisonfamilyvalues” and many of them agree.
“My hat is off to you sir! Only through challenge, hard work, disappointment and perseverance do you grow,” Tom Parker, @twp1533, posted on Harrison’s photo. “One must lose to know what it truly means to win. Something for nothing never made anyone a better person.”
However, not everyone agreed. According to this poll (Source: Reason-Rupe) poll published in The Washington Post the younger the person polled the more likely they were to believe that all participants should receive a trophy. In this poll, the older the person as well as the higher the income are among those which feel that there should not be trophies for participation. Reason Magazine cites this poll in it’s article “65% of Americans Say Millennials Are ‘Entitled,’ 58% of Millennials Agree”
In an interview with NPR, Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck says, “Kids should not be given trophies simply for participating.” Other experts agree with her. But not everyone. Even the experts are split on the subject.
“It may be all they get,” says Jorge Perez, vice president of youth development and social responsibility for the YMCA, another Yes vote. The Y has made a habit of giving participation trophies, he explains, “because we want to anchor the experience.”
In Psychology Today, expert Jonathan Fader, Ph.D. weighs in with “It depends. As an unexpected surprise for someone’s unwavering dedication and effort – absolutely! As a meaningless gesture for just “showing up”—maybe not.”
Whichever side you agree with, the subject does bring about a important discussion. After a team in Texas quit giving out participation trophies, it even became a heated one. But there is one point of agreement that mirrors the #harrisonfamilyvalues, and that is if everyone is rewarded how does anyone learn to deal with failure? And, as much as parents may not like it children do not always excel at everything they do.
“It is a life lesson,” wrote Kim Barron Skinner on KYA Football’s comment. “How do you teach your children to be good winners or good losers if they don’t win AND LOSE? I feel sorry for the kids that never learn disappointment. How will they handle life…such as not getting the job they really wanted, etc.?”