Sandoval’s Sports Series 5

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Sandoval’s Sports Series 5

Kayli Sandoval, Editor-in-Chief

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Growing up in sports, I, along with every other member of numerous recreational leagues, would frequently be given trophies. Champions or not, everyone that participated and paid their fees received one. Why? Well, because we were a part of a team — and oh, better yet, because we “tried our hardest” and “had fun” while doing it. Well, that’s bull, and so are participation trophies.

   Given my competitive nature, participation trophies are undoubtedly seen to me as a false sense of achievement and furthermore, degrade the value of trophies given to teams and players who worked hard to get in their position and earn the accomplishment. When a league, or tournament organization, passes out trophies like candy, there is no significance in earning one.

   Teams and players that win first place often put in a tremendous amount of work and time. With that said, participation trophies make all players and teams believe they achieved something great — and that’s the reason many people support participation trophies. But, what exactly did they achieve? Paying their entry fee on time? Or are they being awarded for showing up to all their games?

   In the real world, no one would ever get a raise, let alone a promotion, for just showing up to work. At school, you don’t always get an A for going to class or trying your hardest. I mean, that’d be really nice, but that just isn’t realistic. In the job field, in school, and in sports, the people that are recognized for their achievements are the ones that are going above and beyond. If children are being taught that doing the bare minimum is enough, reality is going to hit them hard.

   In addition to this false sense of achievement, these trophies given for the participation of players and teams consequently leads to a decline in  motivation. When young participants receive them, they simply believe that the amount of effort they put into the sport or event, despite how little it may be, is satisfactory and “good enough.” This way of thinking does not implement a sense of motivation to become better. If everyone is getting praised for their effort, what is the difference between the trophy the worst team gets, in contrast to the one that the best team receives?

   When competing in tournaments (that definitely did not bother to waste money on participation trophies), not placing or winning would only set a spark, inspire me and my teammates, and make us want to work that much harder — not only for the trophy but for that feeling. Winning championships or competitions is a feeling like no other. You get this sense that all the hard work you dedicated yourself to is finally worth it. Nothing can compare. Implementing trophies for participation only takes away from that.

   Additionally, according to an article in The Washington Post, “Experts agree that losing at sports, no matter how unending, can allow children to learn from failure. Losing all the time builds philosophy, camaraderie, sportsmanship and the idea of athletics as a series of incremental victories. The team may falter, but teammates improve, moment by moment” (

   Rather than praising everyone for participating, children should be taught to turn losses around and try to learn from them in order to better themselves.

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