In a recent column, John Rosemond criticizes participation trophies for children: “Let him know that in the real world ... mere participation doesn’t get one an award.”
In fact, competition is not the most important aspect of life. By definition, very few of us are the “best” at any task or endeavor; our contribution and success come from participating, from showing up and doing what needs to be done day after day. We receive participation paychecks and participation affection.
In regard to participation trophies in children’s activities, they provide an important benefit. In sports, a child receives recognition for fulfilling a commitment by attending practices and games while learning skills. Trophies are received by all players, whether they’re the best players on the worst team, the weakest players on the best team or average players on the middling team.
A child without natural talent receives recognition that he or she is an athlete. This recognition can encourage continued participation, more effort and a greater love of sport and teamwork.
Winners’ trophies and other awards are not always given to the most deserving. Children understand this and naturally resent it; unfairness can stifle interest.