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  • Writer's pictureDejah Dean

Should parents return a participation trophy that their 6-year-old received?

Updated: Aug 27, 2023

By Dejah Dean, Clarion Staff Reporter

It’s not hard to find a heavy debate online about whether or not kids (approximately 6-12 years old) should receive participation trophies. A trophy is a physical award to acknowledge success or accomplishment. A participation trophy is a physical award given no matter if the receiver accomplished anything, given only based on partaking.

Should young athletes receive participation trophies for simply showing up? As kids mature, they’ll realize that trophies are more than gold plastic that collects dust over time. Trophies mark a win in a specific part of a player's life. It’s a statue that holds memorable accomplishments. However, participation trophies should not be given to athletes.

If someone gets a trophy, in some shape or form, they should’ve earned it.

A Pittsburgh Steeler Professional football player didn’t like his sons getting participation trophies. From a professional’s point of view, can he be blamed? He worked hard to get the “Professional Football Player” title so seeing his kids get one was understandably frustrating.

In 2014, Americans took a poll about whether or not kids should get participation trophies. According to Politics, 57% of people think only winning competitions should be rewarded trophies, while 40% said all kids should.

It’s clear that people feel some sort of loss when they don't receive a trophy. Thus, losing makes us work harder the next time. If kids decide not to work hard then it’s on them, it sets the bar low for them because they’re not pushing for 100% effort. Receiving a trophy for just showing up doesn’t teach them to work hard. Kids need to learn how to earn rewards.

Losing can give us a vital life lesson. This lesson gives us the skills to overcome difficulty and to recover from loss. Giving athletes trophies for participating doesn’t reward actual effort, instead it ignores the kids who really tried. Not rewarding kids for just showing up is important because they need to know that in life you have to put in work, participate, and give effort. If they don't win and try their best to get a trophy, they’ll get comfortable with being average.

This article is based on a writing prompt presented by Mr. Phanthai.

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