Why Can’t Kids Cope?

In today’s society, it is prevalent that schools starting as early as elementary are giving out participation awards. But why? Why are we rewarding and giving trophies to the kids that are not nearly as athletic or talented as the other kids whom actually deserve the trophy? Parker Abate from the New York Times disagrees with this statement by claiming that, “These young athletes should be honored in lesser ways and all deserve to feel an accomplishment.”  Abate continues on by supporting his previous statement indicating that,  “self-esteem is a big part of one’s childhood. Watching a peer receive a trophy and not receiving one yourself can be degrading. Any kind of honor can make a young kid feel as if he or she meant something to the team, and that could boost the child’s self-confidence children today need as much of that as they can to get in our society.” 

The societal aspect stated by Abate sounds nice and in theory would give the boy or girl confidence when applying for a job.  However, in reality it does not prepare them for hardships they may face in life like failure.  If two students both apply for the same job, then inevitably one of them will be better than the other, and no type of trophy or award will ever make them feel better, no matter what. 

While diving into the subject I came across a very convincing article from the New York Times, written by Betty Berdan. In the article she argues that we are given awards for literally doing anything, things as small as showing up to practice. Trying your best will not always reap a reward. For instance, Berdan describes, “ practice [is] expected of me, not worthy of an award. These are the foundations of a long path to potential success, a success that is not guaranteed no matter how much effort I put in.”

Participation trophies help create a sense of entitlement, holding our hands out waiting for a prize or in the real world, health care, housing, etc. When Parker Abate said that “…these young athletes should be honored in lesser ways and all deserve to feel an accomplishment,” what I don’t think he understands is that giving everyone a participation trophy destroys the effort that the hard working athletes put into their craft. Only the kids who work hard, sweat,  practice and win should get medals, and if you don’t win then you don’t get a medal. Rather try working harder and pushing yourself further. I truly believe that this is the lesson that we have all lost.