Participation Trophies Skill and Development Kids

Participation Trophies do not Enhance Skill Development in Kids

Ashley Merryman (2016), in the article Forget Trophies, Let Kids Know Its O.K. toLose, argues that kids should be taught that losing and making mistakes is part of growth and progress. Participation trophies create in kids the impression that losing is unacceptable. This passes the wrong message to them because they adopt negative perspectives. Instead, kids should be trained that failure offers them a better opportunity to learn, and it is not a form of embarrassment. It is not about winning all the time but providing progressive results. Merryman shares the claims held by some people that awards enhance self-esteem and hence promote success. However, science refutes such claims that when such kids are overpraised, they tend to be relaxed and feel vindicated, leading to narcissistic tendencies. Instead, the focus should be on enhancing their self-image, which leads to personal development, which is the true mastery of skills. It is the small accomplishments that make them grow. Thus, saving the budget to fund participation trophies is not beneficial. Instead, such funds should aid in skill development and the purchase of equipment that promotes the growth of skills (Merryman, 2016). Kids can indeed excel without participation trophies.

When growing up, I never received any participation trophies. I grew knowing that trophies are not for everyone but those who have won. In particular, my experience in sports was rather odd. I had no passion for football in elementary school, but I admired how winners were rewarded and given special treatment. It made me develop some love for football to win the trophies. In high school, I joined football, but as expected, my performance was poor. However, after months of resilience in training, I emerged among the best players. During the development phase, our coach made it clear that trophies were for the best, and even those who performed better than myself and were not among the top performers, no awards were given to them. It meant one thing. We had to keep improving for us to receive the awards.

I try to picture a different scenario where the rewards could be attained out of simple participation. There would be little to admire or keep us motivated. True to what Merryman explains, participation trophies can kill the motivation and make kids relaxed. In the Trophy Nation, James resonates with the claims by Merryman, indicating that while many parents value participation trophies, he has made the players understand that only those who win deserve the best rewards. This helps in instilling the culture of hard work (WPDENewsChannel15, 2014). James, who was once a player, gives a more profound experience about how players feel and the objectives of the coaches. Only a specific age group can only feel the impact of participation trophies, but as goals become more defined, they do not encourage hard work. For Thomson (WPDENewsChannel15, 2014), when kids are used to participation trophies, they tend to desire more and more. However, for me, such awards could make even the best players equal with the weaker ones. Thus, that would be discouraging and would not build on skill enhancement.

In conclusion, participation trophies do not serve the role that many people believe they do. They have adverse effects on motivation and can easily make kids vindicated. Instead, kids should receive awards only after attaining essential milestones in their lives. Making the kids believe that they have to win in all circumstances makes them weak and fears failure. Unfortunately, this should not be the goal of trophies. They are supposed to create in kids the desire to work harder and develop the spirit of appreciating even failures as part of their success journey.


Merryman, A. (2016, October 6). Forget Trophies, Let Kids Know Its O.K. to Lose. The New York Times.

YouTube. (2014). Special Report: Trophy Nation. YouTube.

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