One of the unfortunate icons of the millennial generation and the parents, teachers, and coaches who raised them is the participation trophy. It’s said that the road to destruction is often paved with good intentions, and the participation trophy is one of those good intentions gone wrong.
In a world where everyone is taught to believe they are a winner no matter what they do, no one is driven to succeed. When we give our kids a trophy just for showing up, we remove their incentives to do better, to push themselves harder, and to win.
One of the biggest benefits of sports and competition is the work ethic and drive to succeed that they instill in their participants. If you remove this aspect of competition, though, those benefits disappear.
The truth is that just showing up and participating is not good enough – not in sports, and certainly not in life. Participation trophies wrongly teach kids that this is not the case. Rather than pushing someone to excel or encouraging them to explore other pursuits where they are more skilled, participation trophies bread unearned complacency, and complacency is always the enemy of success, especially when it isn’t earned.
There’s no doubt that current and future generations will feel the impact of the participation trophy culture unless something is done. To hear Former Olympian and LA Galaxy soccer star Cobi Jones discuss the dangers of participation trophies, be sure to check out the video below.