Yeah! Another Trophy for Losing

The pizza and cake had been served and it was time for the coaches to stand up and give the end of the season speech. The girls’ excitement was building. They knew it was coming.

The only thought going through my head was, “Are you kidding me?

“What a wonderful season! You girls played fantastic all season long and each and every one of you deserves one of these trophies.” Coach Peter announced to his fifth grade girls volleyball team.

One by one each girl was presented with a shiny, gold colored, plastic, eight-inch tall trophy with their name engraved right above the word, “CHAMPIONS”.

The only thought going through my head was, “Are you kidding me? These girls were terrible this season. They never won one a single game. And a few of the girls spent more time braiding each other’s hair while sitting on the bench than they did actually playing volleyball.”

Like all of the other parents, I smiled and clapped loudly

To hear the coach say they earned a “CHAMPIONS” trophy seemed utterly absurd. If the trophy would have read, “Honorable Mention” or “Best Effort” or even “Team with the Best Hair Styles” (due to all of the braiding going on during the games), it would have more fitting. Why are they getting “CHAMPIONS” trophies for losing every game?

Like all of the other parents, I smiled and clapped loudly when each girl’s name was called.  I didn’t want to look like an unsupportive mom. But on the inside I was screaming, “Doesn’t anyone else think it is strange that our children are being given “CHAMPIONS” trophies?”

After we got home that evening, I got out the dictionary and looked up the word, CHAMPION, just to see if there was a different definition than the one I knew, and this is what I found:

Champion: (noun)

A person who has defeated all opponents in a competition or a series of competitions, so as to hold first place.

Well that seemed pretty straightforward to me.

But on the inside I was screaming…

I don’t think I am totally insensitive. I am all for acknowledging kids for showing up all season, showing good sportsmanship and for having fun. But do we have to give them a “CHAMPIONS” trophy for losing all their games?

Am I crazy or callus for thinking this way? I would love to hear your opinion.     

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13 Responses to Yeah! Another Trophy for Losing

  1. Angie says:

    This parent is FAR more content with the pajama lounge pants or crazy socks as a a parting gift. The trophy thing has only served to help our kids lose sight of what the trophy should REALLY mean- say if you WIN the league championship or National Title!

  2. Sherri says:

    For the end-of-season gift for our daughter’s soccer team (who actually had a winning season), a mom put together one of those photo books (I think from Costco?) filled with pictures of the season. Best gift ever! All 5 of us in our home look through it constantly!
    I agree that the trophy-thing is a bit out of hand…..

  3. Coach Maki says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I think the plan is backfiring. We want kids to feel good and have confidence, but we are robbing them of the chance for REAL confidence. Confidence comes from reaching a goal or overcoming adversity NOT from getting a trophy.
    I can’t tell you how hard this is as a high school coach and PE teacher. So many parents think their kid should play because he “tried hard” or “loves the game”. It is difficult to explain that there are better players on the team. Or the number of kids and parents who think they should get an “A” in my class because they try hard! I want to scream “you ran a 12 minute mile and did 20 pushups in a minute, that is NOT “A” work!!”. An “A” is for excellent! But that is grade inflation….a “C” is no longer average…that’s a whole another story!!

  4. Susie says:

    Oh, this drives me crazy. When you get to college and then enter the workforce, no one gives you a prize for mediocrity. It’s important to learn how to compete gracefully, how to deal with both winning AND losing, and how to be accountable to your team…I’m glad they had fun, but calling them champions dilutes the reward for those that worked hard and took it seriously.

  5. Chris says:

    Too true! I really could not stand the “no score” game. The only team not keep score is the losing team. Winning takes work.

  6. Tiffany says:

    I couldn’t agree more. My son’s athletics are pushing it. They have been good- soccer we were first and baseball we are hanging onto second. Even with that, the snacks at age 9+, patches and trophies arenot teachin what it takes to earn it. I fear that he might have expectations as he advances that will fall very short and he will become disillusioned with reality. I LOVE the photo book idea so much!

  7. Kristin says:

    Could not agree more with the snacks and the trophies. What makes sense about you child playing game and exercising and then giving them a doughnut as a snack afterward? All those trophies will end up in a landfill anyway, so another argument to do away with them.

  8. Barbara says:

    This is so true, I agree with you Chris. Everyone has their hands out to receive whatever when they do not deserve it. They must learn to work hard for it, school or work place. They must learn that starting at a very young age!! So wake up coaches, parents and schools!!! Love your articles, your blogs hopefully will wake up the world!!

  9. Kathleen says:

    I am sooooooooo glad you are feeling the same way I am… This has been a pet peeve of mine for years!!!! We are raising entitled kids that don’t understand how to really EARN something by hard work and continuous effort!!

  10. Robyn says:

    I am so glad you wrote about this!! I recently read an article titled “The Praise Craze” which stated well intentioned parents undermine children’s moral and emotional development by overpraising them. It also stated that empty flattery is hurting our children, that we must be focused on moral character such as honesty, loyalty, kindness, commitment, and sacrifice.

  11. Gayleen says:

    I honestly believe that a lot of children have serious entitlement issues and aren’t willing to put in the work, to gain the reward. And the sad thing is that it isn’t their fault. I truly believe that children need to learn that their isn’t rewards for just showing up. It’s healthy to learn loss and ‘rejection’. What are we setting our children up for, if we reward them for everything…just being a child??

  12. Pat Costa says:

    We do children a disservice by allowing them to compete without allowing them to taste victory or defeat. CHildhood is supposed to prepare children for becoming adults in the real world. That real world is a harsh mistress, not everyone wins, not everyone is a champion. The people who pay you don’t congratulate you for just showing up (well, maybe the Air Force, but nobody else :-) ). I don’t advocate treating kids as adults, childhood is for fun too, but if the first time a person experiences disappointment is the day the leave the next, they will be ill prepared for what lies in wait for the next six decades.

  13. susan says:

    I totally agree with your feelings!!!

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