Opinion: Trophy Anyone?

Over the next several weeks we will be featuring various opinion pieces written in Mr. Rutter’s 10th grade English classes.


Emma Hoover

Sophomore Maddie Coleman smiling proudly with her bronze medal from the D6 District Championship meet.

If you know anyone born in the time period between  Happy Days through Back to the Future, you heard these words: “Back in my day, we had to work hard for what we earned. Nobody gave us a trophy for just showin’ up!”

No, this isn’t Doc Brown scolding Marty about not receiving an award for his guitar playing at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance (although he did deserve a one). I’m sure you have heard your parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles say this before.

You probably just shooed it off, not really thinking much about it; however, have you ever noticed, teams that lose still receive participation trophies? Some adults these days feel the need to always have to give a kid a trophy, even if they didn’t do anything but sit their butts on the bench during  practice and complain about how hot it is outside. Or they resort to the ole’ stand-by excuses: “I’m too tired” or “My belly really hurts!” Are the adults scared that the kids would get hurt by losing?

Obviously, it’s an accomplishment to earn a shiny, metal or trophy and hang it up on your wall. But did you really earn and work hard for it?

As I grew up, I was taught to work hard for my awards. If I lost, I had to learn to accept it knowing I gave it my all while being proud of what I accomplished. Sure, we might have lost but there is an important lesson to be gained in losing, especially for this current generation: losing builds character. Some kids that are playing sports or any other activity “freak out” if they lose. They show disrespect towards their coaches, teammates and even themselves just because they want to win and grab that shiny, gold trophy. And they wonder why they are called sore losers?

Do we really want our future generation to throw hissy fits when something doesn’t go their way?

Clearly, not all kids act this way, but a large portion of kids do. Even some adults. If we gave people a trophy for everything, what is that teaching them? We all have to learn to fail or lose so we can learn how to accept life when things don’t always go our way. Everyone getting a trophy or a medal, win or lose, degrades the value of the hard-work needed to achieve success.

Winning comes through discipline not expectation, and sometimes failure can be our best teacher.

Sports and competitions provide valuable lessons to be learned as we go through our years of school sports. Although we may not realize it, as we play the game to win, the game is teaching us some things about life.

Former NFL linebacker, James Harrison, of the Pittsburgh Steelers took his children’s participation trophies away from them. Harrison said, “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.”

If everyone gets a trophy for participating, there would be no difference in winning and losing. If they are taught that they are always winning, what happens when they lose and do not know how to deal with disappointment? This is dangerous ground.

Head basketball coach of Louisville, Jeff Waltz, voiced his opinion. “Right now, the generation of kids that are coming through, everybody gets a damn trophy, okay? You finish last, you come home with a trophy. You kidding me? What’s that teaching kids? It’s okay to lose!”

Overall, I’m not saying that participation trophies are the worst thing in the world, but losing and not getting a trophy every time in a competition or sporting event can build character. This can help you learn how to deal with disappointment. Not getting a trophy every time can help push you and set goals for yourself to improve and get better.

Sports and athletics sole purpose is to teach you about yourself. The lessons you learn can and should be applied throughout the course of your adult life. The last time I checked, there was no trophy given for mowing the lawn.