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drawkcabi

Participation Trophies Are A Good Thing

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I don't think there's anything wrong with participation trophies. In fact, I think the intensity with which some people rail against them to be pretty unhealthy - it is not pleasant to be in a society that only rewards "winners", and I've found that to be true even if you are the winner.

The message around a participation trophy is pretty simple imo and shouldn't cause any consternation. "Well done, the effort and determination that you put into this is valuable in and of itself.". This sentiment isn't mutually exclusive with the value of competition. 

 

 

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3 hours ago, Leap said:

I don't think there's anything wrong with participation trophies. In fact, I think the intensity with which some people rail against them to be pretty unhealthy - it is not pleasant to be in a society that only rewards "winners", and I've found that to be true even if you are the winner.

The message around a participation trophy is pretty simple imo and shouldn't cause any consternation. "Well done, the effort and determination that you put into this is valuable in and of itself.". This sentiment isn't mutually exclusive with the value of competition. 

Yeah, I think you can usually have a happy medium. What people really object to is doing away with competition altogether. I remember at primary school we used to play tag rugby, and a village priest used to run it (in villages, all sorts of people end up doing all sorts of random jobs). A lot of the time at the end he'd just say "you all played well, so we'll call today a draw". This really wound me up, even though these were basically just PE lessons. I know competition isn't for everyone, but for a lot of us it brings a lot of motivation and satisfaction. 

It's also easy for things to go the other way. When I was a teenager, and I think this is pretty common, being too enthusiastic about anything, even something "cool", usually led to mockery. Being a "try hard" was one of the most common mockeries. I'm not saying participation trophies led to this, but it's important to tell kids it's ok to really compete for something.

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I dont think participation trophies mean very much, and in fact cheapen the real trophies. I have not won many trophies in my life, but do have a 3rd place one for finishing a sprint triathlon in 3rd place. I did not even realize I had finished in third place because I was too busy getting sick/having general muscle failure afterwards. I ended up going home and found out later I finished in third place. 

because I dont have a lot of trophies, that 3rd place trophy means something to me. 

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Casting my thoughts way back into the Stone Age, I vaguely recall a "thanks for showing up" certificate I received at a speaking competition.  There were several categories, and my chosen one had something to do with reading a selection of a famous novel, acting the two characters' parts (without mugging.)  Apparently, my efforts weren't quite the thing, so I did not win.  I guess I'll always think of these participation awards as consolation prizes.  I don't know anyone who doesn't, really.  They don't do any harm and give you something to remember in later years. 

I also tend to think that the people who are most put out by them are the ones who did do well/won.  I'll leave it to them to consider why this may be so.

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I'm glad OP made the distinction that winners should get the bigger trophies. I see nothing wrong with participation trophies, but extra effort (luck, ability, whatever) deserves extra recognition, IMO. Participation trophies weren't common when I was growing up, but I switched schools in 5th grade and they did this - sort of. Track was my thing and I won races. At the new school, I got a blue ribbon in all my races ... but so did everyone else who finished within a certain time range. Second place had a specific time range, and third place for everyone else. I won each race, but my 'trophy case' looked exactly the same as the second place finisher. That was not cool.

Having said that, I like the idea of everyone getting a (smaller) blue ribbon. I still have those ribbons in my scrap book and still feel a residue of resentment when I look at them. Yeah, I realize I'm coming across as kind of a dick by saying that, but lizard brain feels what it feels.

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