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Peyton Manion
Mrs. Cramer
English Comp I Pd. 5a
21 September 2018

Participation Trophies
It is funny to think that something as simple as a trophy can change society. The idea of

participation trophies has caused a lot of conflict and controversy present day. The uprise of the

debate has upset many parents and athletes in the process. Most people today disagree with them,

and think they do more harm than help to children. Participation trophies negatively impact the

youth by making their work ethic lazy, destroying key life lessons, and blinding kids to failure.

First, the lazy Millennial stereotype is now coming into play, as these trophies are in the

process of making lazy children. Many professional athletes have stepped up and voiced their

opinions about these trophies. For example, Bryce Harper (right fielder for the Washington

Nationals), addressed a group of young baseball players at a camp with, “As much as they might

tell you, ‘Oh, it’s okay you guys lost,’ but no, Johnny, no. No participation trophies, okay. First

place only.” (Flaherty 2). Simply, what Harper is saying is that when anybody is constantly being

handed everything to them, especially children, they tend to expect that more frequently, and get

lazy gradually. This is why the Millennial age group is falling directly into the stereotype. He is

realizing that kids nowadays want everything handed to them, because of concerning ideas like

the participation trophy. So, speaking from experience, Bryce preaches hard work, and believes

kids should truly earn whatever they are achieving. Harper shares a common opinion with one of

his own opponents. Another professional MLB player, Andrew McCutchen, came from a low-

income family out of a small town, but had the hard work ethic and determination to take matters

into his own hands, work his tail off, and get noticed (Hyman 4). McCutchen eventually went on
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to go to the University of Florida, and soon after signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a first-

round draft pick. McCutchen has paved the path by setting an example of achieving success as a

result of his hard work. That is why it is important for the youth to understand the importance of

hard work in reaching your goals, and how much harm these trophies can do in establishing their

work ethic. A hard working mentality is necessary for success, along with having knowledge and

wisdom of experienced life lessons.

Also, the idea of participation trophies is angering parents around the world by ruining

important life lessons that help their children succeed. Recently, professional NFL superstar,

James Harrison, had an incident where his sons received participation trophies from a local

league in Pittsburgh. Angered, he sent them back stating, “until they earn a real trophy.” (Gale

2). Harrison refused to keep the trophies because they were demoralizing his own kids, not

teaching them the importance of hard work, and how to deal with losing. He wants to teach his

kids how to truly achieve their personal goals by working hard for it and earning what they get.

Also, he wants to teach them at a young age how to deal with loss, and to only work harder to get

better and be more successful. Former NFL quarterback, Kurt Warner, completely agrees with

Harrison in his stand against these trophies. He recently commented on Twitter, “They don’t let

kids pass classes 4 just showing up.” (Gale 3). Warner believes that kids need to learn how to

work hard as well, and not expect everything to be handed to them. In addition, he believes that

parents shouldn’t hold their kids back from making mistakes and learning from their

disappointments, because life is not going to bend around anyone for their sake. That’s just the

way life is. It puts kids at risk to miss that general idea, and be blind to it, because these trophies

are just constantly being handed to them, no matter how well they did. This idea does not

motivate kids to do their very best, and to work as hard as they can to achieve anything they

could possibly imagine. Instead, it shows them that if they don’t even put in any effort, or even
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try at all, that it is okay, and they are still winners. Well that is not the case. Because

participation trophies have destroyed every life lesson kids have learned to be successful in life,

what do they do in the future when they are crushed with loss or disappointment? That is why

experiencing life lessons as a kid is beneficial to your future success, as well as not being

oblivious to failure.

In addition, children raised blind to failure, can thank participation trophies for their

future troubles. Eddie Brummelman, a Psychology professor at Utrecht University, said, “If you

tell a child with low self-esteem that they did incredibly well, they may think they always need to

do incredibly well.” (Weeler 4). Many kids with anxiety or any insecurities about themselves

will most likely always feel pressure and doubt because they were raised blind to the fact that

they are seldom wrong, so they don’t know how to react to, or accept failure. Which then often

causes lack of confidence and motivation. Brummelman later goes on to say, “They may worry

about meeting those high standards and decide not to take on any new challenges.” Teenagers

that grew up receiving participation trophies are blind to the truth and refuse to push themselves

past their expectations. At a young age, they developed a mindset that they would attempt to use

for the rest of their lives. Little did they know, it doesn’t work like that. They don’t realize that

they can exceed well past what they think they can do. But, you can also fail to accomplish that

feature. It’s whether or not you have the motivation, that kids blind to failure, come short of.

These trophies are causing teens today to be blind to failure, leading to an unsuccessful future.

In conclusion, the idea of these trophies is harming the children of society today by

lowering their motivation, demoralizing them, and making them ignorant to their own mistakes.

Participation trophies are making kids become lazier, ruining their positive childhood lessons

necessary for a successful future, and making them unfamiliar with failure. A little trophy can

mean a huge amount, after all.

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Works Cited
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"Does Sports Participation Deserve a Trophy? Let the Parental Debate Begin!" CNN

Wire, 18 Aug. 2015. Opposing Viewpoints in Context,

Accessed 20 Sept. 2018.

Flaherty, Bryan. "Bryce Harper to Young Players: 'No Participation Trophies, Okay. First

Place Only..'", 27 May 2017. Student Resources In Context,

Accessed 21 Sept. 2018.

Gerdy, John R. "Organized Sports Do Not Benefit Children." Sports and Athletes, edited

by James D. Torr, San Diego, Greenhaven Press, 2005. Opposing Viewpoints. Opposing

Viewpoints in Context,

f. Accessed 19 Sept. 2018. Originally published in Sports: The All-American Addiction,

Jackson, UP of Mississippi, 2002.

Hyman, Mark. "We Can Lower the Price of Youth Sports by Shifting Our Priorities."

Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection, Detroit, Gale, 2018. Opposing Viewpoints in


4d03d6. Accessed 21 Sept. 2018. Originally published as "The Troubling Price of

Playing Youth Sports" in The Conversation, Conversation, 23 June 2015.

Weller, Chris. "Two Words That Could Hurt Your Kids: Nice Job." Newsweek, vol. 162,

no. 1, 3 Jan. 2014, p. 1. Opposing Viewpoints in Context,

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Accessed 21 Sept. 2018.

"Youth Sports." Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection, Detroit, Gale, 2016. Opposing

Viewpoints in Context,

Accessed 21 Sept. 2018.

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