Although is is very much at the forefront of conversations involving younger children, participation trophies often become a forgotten entity once kids reach the age where it is seen as alright for people to lose. In the competition-driven society that we live in today, participation trophies are a very polarizing subject, albeit in a rather modest way. These awards are typically given out to younger children in an effort to avoid hurt feelings and self-esteem issues, however, there are a few questions that need to be asked about these trophies.
The first question is: Should participation trophies exist? The answer to that differs from one person’s opinion to the next. I, however, feel as if there is still a little value inside of these seemingly meaningless trophies. Especially in the eyes of a preschool student or early elementary school student, a participation trophy can be a valuable source of self-confidence and an early discovery of self-worth, something that has become very important in modern society.
As we persist to give out participation trophies, the nest question arises: When do we stop handing them out? More experienced members of society have the role of integrating young children into society, making them aware of how society functions and giving them valuable life skills and knowledge. The truth is, however, society today is becoming increasingly more competitive and cutthroat, with college recruiting, internships, job interviews, and even private grammar school recruiting starting earlier and earlier. With this uptick in competition and the desire to get ahead of others by all means, we may be doing the youth a disservice by handing out participation trophies.
The fact of the matter is, for every child, there will be points in their lives when they will not win, and not win any trophy or award, so conditioning children from a young age that a reward will come from not winning is very counterproductive, and it just means that the introduction into the competitive nature of the real world will be that much more shocking for the youth. After all, the goal of the older members of society is to prepare the younger people to enter the real world, and giving out participation trophies may very well just do the opposite.
Graphic: Taylor Donovan