‘Participation Trophies’: The Great Parenting Debate

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An online parenting debate has been prompted, after NFL star James Harrison posted to Instagram, a picture of the “Best of the Batch” trophies his sons received saying that he would return his sons’ participation trophies because he wants them to earn “real trophies” instead.

He captioned the picture as follows:

“I came home to find out that my boys received two trophies for nothing, participation trophies! While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them till the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy. I’m sorry I’m not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned and I’m not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best…cause sometimes your best is not enough, and that should drive you to want to do better…not cry and whine until somebody gives you something to shut u up and keep you happy. #harrisonfamilyvalues”

There were thousands of comments that followed Harrison’s post, and parenting experts and sports writers were on different sides of the coin as to whether participation awards actually enhance children’s confidence and their appreciation for teamwork or whether it harms their ability to learn that success comes through perseverance and pure hard work.

These trophies are being blamed for creating an entitled generation who expect praise for the modest efforts but then also later in life. There has been almost no research to prove the benefits or harm of participation trophies in sports but according to the latest Reason-Rupe poll, 57% of Americans feel that only the winners should receive trophies, whilst another 40% say that all kids on a sport team should receive a trophy for their participation.

Are trophies just for showing up? Or is everyone a winner? Where do you stand?

What Jeff Rossen from TODAY special reports doing a social experiment:

One Comment

  1. Shannon Leigh Johnson

    May 12, 2016 at 12:37 am

    Maybe not a participation trophy but everyone should be recognized in some way. Some kids shut down if they feel like their efforts didn’t matter.

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