The buzzer went off as the underdog basketball team managed to pull off an almost impossible win against the number one team in the country. The underdog team is presented with the championship trophy, while the number one team gets… participation trophies? After all the hard work put in by the underdog team to win, the losing team still received an award as well. This scenario is a more common scene in sports than people might think. Participation trophies do not make sense because basic participation gets awarded and renders the point of competing and improving null and void. 

As time has gone on, participation trophies have become more and more popular. In a Reason-Rupe poll from 2014, 57 percent of people said only winners should receive trophies, while 40 percent of people said there should be participation trophies as well. The concept of participation trophies needs to leave today’s society because it is ruining children’s perceptions on how the real world works. Because of participation trophies, children grow up expecting an award for anything they do, even if what they do or create is horrendous. After a while, children may have an hindrance in their development because they begin to expect an award without ever realizing the need for improvement. This creates entitlement, as the children will expect awards for everything they do, which in turn will lead to non-motivated children. Kids need motivation to improve, and by having an award or reward to desire, it would help motivate them to become their best possible selves. Participation trophies, on the other hand, will not give children any motivation to better themselves. 

The whole reason why participation awards are given is because they boost confidence and seemingly make everyone happy. Participation awards are meant to point out hard work, and can admittedly help someone feeling down on themselves. If you are doing a completely new hobby, for example, then any award could motivate you to continue the new hobby because it makes you feel proud. This is where participation trophies’ fatal flaw comes in, however, as you might also fall under the illusion that you have the same talents as everyone else.

Parents these days can’t handle their kids being sad because they feel they aren’t good enough. Failure, while difficult to endure, is the best thing that can happen to a child because it offers an opportunity to learn and develop. If kids never fail and always receive awards, then they will find it hard to improve and become better. This will always cause them to never gain any levels of motivation to improve upon their failures. For example, a team wins the championship game and the other team receives a participation award. What is the point of a championship game if both teams win an award? The second place team will have no motivation to improve because they received an award anyways. 

Participation awards create nothing but short term happiness. They also get rid of the meaning of awards because everyone receives them despite their accomplishments. When something is common, the value of said item decreases. If everyone receives an award, there is no point of having competitions because then it’s all about participation. Competitions are valuable in today’s society because it challenges people and improves society through having everyone compete at their highest abilities. If people just simply participated, the work done would be average and meaningless. Kids, and adults as well, need to be able to accept failure and not receive participation trophies. If people do take these awards, they’ll never get better and ultimately will end up not only lost in the real world, but making it worse themselves. 

SOURCECover Photo Courtesy of Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash
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RJ Hosay is the Online Editor-in-Chief. RJ previously led the sports writing team. Every writer on the team received the All-Florida award from the Florida Scholastic Press Association in 2022 which is unprecedented in Andalusian history. RJ has received multiple FSPA All-Florida Awards during his tenure. He also served as the business manager of the newspaper. RJ is a Maclay Scholar Athlete and serves as Captain of Maclay’s varsity soccer team. He is also a multi-year letterman on the weightlifting team. RJ works as a licensed soccer referee and is a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer. Outside of the Andalusian and a rigorous academic schedule, you can find him spending time outdoors, working with his yellow lab or with his family and friends.