The Participation Trophy Generation (and My Unintended Involvement)

Written by Jonah Swinson

I regretfully have made the realization that I belong to the participation trophy generation.

We belong to a society that has become so focused on not offending anybody or leaving someone out that we have neglected to honor the people that really deserve the credit, and that is all that the participation trophy is accomplishing.

Every little league team have the kids who stand solemnly in right field picking their nose wondering what snack the moms are going to provide after the game. They hope that the coach isn’t going to ask them to lean into the first wild pitch so that they are actually forced to get involved in the game rather than counting down the minutes until they can go home.

At the end of the season, these “participants” are going to be awarded the same prize as the kids who were willing to put in the effort to excel in their sport.

The biggest problem with this is that it is not real life.

Nobody is going to be given anything substantial in his or her career simply for showing up or by his or her mom agreeing to supply juice boxes one day out of the month. However, a less talked about issue is that handing out trophies simply for the act of participating makes the trophy absolutely worthless.

The participation trophy was created with the intention of making sure that everyone receives some sort of acknowledgement simply for playing the game, but when everyone gets the same prize, then that prize is of no value.

The last place team is not busting with pride because they are awarded a plastic trophy. They know that they lost and are just being given that trophy because someone’s parents complained.

However, the championship team also does not view the trophy as a source of pride because they understand that they still would have received the trophy whether they would have won or lost.

Nobody benefits from this scenario because the trophy has no value, but the people who do deserve acknowledgement for their success are punished because they do not receive the credit that they truly deserve.

Furthermore, the people who lose have no incentive to improve. Why work to get better when there is no difference between winning and losing?

The fact of the matter is, there are winners and there are losers in life. There is no reason to blur the lines between success and failure and tell people that there is no reason to strive to improve in order to get better.

Society has always rewarded those who are the best at what they do and rewarding people simply for showing up is simply setting them up for failure.

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