The debate of participation trophies

Participation trophies are awarded to every player who participates in a game, a league or even a competition. The award itself is self-explanatory. This type of award has garnered some controversy over whether it should be given out to these children in developmental leagues. The people for the distribution of the award argue that every kid is a winner and needs to be given a trophy to award them for trying.  On the other hand, those against the award argue the opposite. Some people also argue about the effect that the award has on a child’s life.

Personally, I do not like the idea of a participation award for the simple fact that life is difficult. You are not always going to be rewarded for things. 

When competing in any way after the age of 10 or so, you will either be handed the first-place trophy, or you will be handed a much smaller second-place trophy. In some cases, if you do not win the first prize, you will be given nothing. Being given nothing also refers to life. Teaching children that winning and losing are what hinders the development of themselves. 

Gem Awards,a company from Utah that sells trophies (, in a post titled “The Participation Trophy Debate,” suggests, suggests that the distribution of participation trophies “eliminate competition” and that kids “won’t learn from mistakes.” I fully-heartedly agree with both statements. 

Giving children a participation trophy will teach them that there is nothing to compete for and that everything is given to you easily. So, when a kid loses something later in their life, they will not know how to handle losing. 

Learning from your own mistakes is perhaps the most important life advice I have ever been given. I am sure that is true for a good number of people. Losing or the steps taken before a loss can be seen as a mistake. If kids are given a trophy for losing or “making a mistake,” in this case, how will they ever learn how to handle a relationship rejection or not getting hired for a job?

Another “con” example listed by Gem Awards was “narcissism.” Narcissism according, is an inflated self-image and addiction to fantasy, by an unusual coolness and composure shaken only when the narcissistic confidence is threatened, and by the tendency to take others for granted or to exploit them.. I do not entirely agree with the fact that being given a participation trophy would lead a kid to develop narcissism. However, I do believe that it could lead to cockiness and settling for less than what you should strive for. 

Gem Awards also stated that a reason participation trophies are given out is to “elevate children’s success.” They considered this to be a positive. I do not see a way in which getting a participation trophy would help the success of a child. Losing is the biggest motivation, along with learning from your mistakes.   

Therefore,  I do see giving children a trophy solely for participating is a negative thing for children. It eliminates competition, stops kids from learning from their mistakes and develops narcissistic tendencies.
( – The Participation Trophy Debate)