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Exploring the Advantages and Disadvantages of Participation Trophies

In the Game of Life, there is No Participation Trophy.
In Sports, it’s an entirely different Ball Game!

The handing out of Participation Trophies was a practice started by youth soccer leagues in the late 1970s. A practice that has stuck to this day, to the delight of budding sportspersons all over the world.

So, are participation trophies Good? This article endeavours to understand just that, by taking a deep dive into the Pros and Cons of Participation Trophies.

The debate on whether participation trophies are helpful or detrimental, is longstanding. Let’s decide for ourselves, if they are actually healthy for our children, or not.

It would be a nice idea to begin, by exploring all the reasons we believe that Participation Trophies are indeed worth it.

The Pros of Participation Trophies

Are participation trophies good? Here’s all the reasons those participation trophies are a sign of actual Reward, rather than Entitlement!

  1. A Boost of Confidence
  2. Let’s face the facts: In every game, there can be only One winner, be it a Team or an Individual.

    The act of only rewarding the victor, could severely hamper the confidence of (especially) younger athletes. By rewarding the losers with participation trophies, it gives them the sense that they have been rewarded for giving their best. It reiterates the age-old lesson, that it is striving to do your best, that matters more than winning.

  3. They foster Healthy Socialisation
  4. In case you didn’t know already, participation trophies are even handed out in games in the arena of Academics!

    The great thing about participation trophies is, they encourage children to participate in Team Activities. The mere act of bonding with their peers, helps them develop close relations with even strangers they meet. Moreover, they also support their teammates every step of the way, Win or Lose!

  5. They encourage Physical Activity
  6. If kids are losing all the time when they play Sports, they are likely to give up playing those games in due course of time.

    Participation trophies give a moral boost to even children who do not excel at the sports they play. This goes a long way in helping them simply get out of their homes and get a healthy dose of good old exercise. This is especially relevant in today’s digital age, when most kids perpetually find themselves glued to their screens.

  7. They encourage a Growth Mindset
  8. Children should never be taught that ‘Winning is good and Losing is Bad.’

    Participation trophies are invaluable in helping children use those setbacks as a learning opportunity. They help them learn from their experiences, so they can do better the next time round. They get excited about the next opportunity to showcase their talents. After all, Today’s Loser can be Tomorrow’s Winner!

  9. It removes the feeling of being Isolated
  10. In today’s world, feelings of isolation can lead to severe mental issues in children.

    When kids get participation trophies, they feel a sense of Inclusion that is vital in boosting their happiness. It makes them feel like they belong to a larger tribe of sportspersons who are all equally honoured and respected. This goes a long way in creating a lasting, Positive Psychological Impression, in the years to follow.

The Cons of Participation Trophies

Almost everything that is good in the world, has a flip side to it! Here are the reasons those participation trophies might not be the best ‘Reward’ for your kids.

  1. They kill Competition
  2. Sports should be all about Competition, right? It doesn’t quite seem that way, when participation trophies are in the picture!

    Not everyone can be a Winner all the time. By rewarding all the Losers at the end of the game, children are not encouraged to work to their fullest potential. One of the serious downsides of participation trophies is, the winners might decline in their performance because they don’t see the point in winning, if everyone is rewarded.

  3. It hurts their Motivation
  4. As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are no participation trophies in Life!

    When children are hit with the sad realisation that the trophy in their hands is ‘Not Earned’, their motivation can take a serious hit. There is in fact a need to emphasise to kids that if they strive hard to do their best, those rewards will come in due course of time.

  5. It can lead to feelings of Narcissism
  6. That participation trophy they hold in their hands, might just make children feel that they are the best, no matter what.

    Losing is actually an incredible opportunity. For things like Introspection. To see how there are some areas where we might not be as good as others. Rather than discouraging children, it can help them find areas they can excel in. On the other hand, those participation trophies will leave no area for improvement at all.

  7. Children don’t learn from their mistakes
  8. Winning or Losing is part of the game. What matters most, is that children learn from the mistakes they make.

    Kids have to be taught that everyone fails at numerous points in their lives. The really important thing is that they learn from their mistakes, and soldier on in an attempt to become Better Versions of Themselves. Rewards have to be earned, after all, and participation trophies are not amongst those ‘Earned Rewards.’

  9. There is no distinction between Winning and Losing
  10. The very purpose of playing any game is to win it. Right?

    There are few Life Lessons that are more crucial than understanding the difference between Winning and Losing. This doesn’t mean that only winners are put on a pedestal, no. There is a sublime grace in fighting against the odds and bouncing back after a loss. A supreme life lesson every child should learn.

At EuroKids we believe that while participation trophies are indeed beneficial to an extent, they might not be the best option in the long run. As children grow older, they need to understand the finer difference between Success and Failure. Between mere Participation, and Results.

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