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I’d be against trophies if only I had the guts

Submitted by on Monday, 8 June 2009 2 Comments

youth_sports_trophiesIt invaded our home Saturday, eight inches of dust-gathering fragility added to the growing shrine to Big Guy’s athletic prowess.

Prowess? What prowess, beyond showing up Saturday mornings after I dynamite his fanny out of bed?

The shrine’s not debatable, though. Big Guy hasn’t  reached his second anniversary in “organized” sports – a loose term at his age – but he has three trophies.

The most recent, from the just-ended tee ball season, is a disaster waiting to happen. The fragile tee is doomed for destruction in a matter of days, particularly since Boots covets it the most. “It was more gold! I want that one!”

See? The 3-year-old is polluted and he hasn’t even started to play.

And why not hand him a trophy as well – he did almost as much to earn one as Big Guy did. He showed up at every practice and would have contributed had Mean Mom not pulled him back to the sidelines. He went to every game and probably expended more mental and physical energy trying to get to the field as Big Guy used while actually playing.

“I want a trophy!” he wailed Saturday. “I want a trophy!”

What the heck do I say? That he didn’t do anything to earn one? Neither did Big Guy but people keep handing them to him anyway as long as Dad and I keep handing over the $7.50.

Call me an esteem-destroying party-pooper, but I make sure Big Guy knows he didn’t earn it. There’s been ample chance recently, after he did indeed earn a yellow belt, to reinforce that notion. “This isn’t like soccer, where everyone got a trophy,” I told him.

Still, I don’t have strong objections to trophies on principle. A gaudy bauble is not going to create a child who grows up to crave praise and recognition. Not if parents stress the way life really is – or the way it should be.

My objection is on practical grounds. I have enough clutter to dust without shelling out money so Big Guy can bring home more. More for the guys to fight over, too.

But none of my objections is strong enough to stop the shrine from growing. I’m not wild about the trophies, but neither am I going to stomp up and down and ruin what should be a happy memory for my son by labeling him “Kid Who Didn’t Get a Trophy Because His Mom’s a Freak.”

I’ll save my freakishness for principles that matter. Meanwhile, I’ll keep dusting the shrine.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • bob lamacki said:

    I think you have the idea of the particpation trophy wrong. It is a remembrance of the fact that he played. It is somethin positive to look at when he lays in bed. He did accomplish something and that was a beginning and an ending. Plus, these little momentos are so in-expensive. In these times, it is so important for a child to feel good about himself. So many parents are into catching your kids doing something wrong. Just think of the reaction from your child if he were praised for all the things he did right today. You have to look hard, I realize, but, be introspective. The same could be said about you. What did you do right today. And, you know what, I bet it was a lot, maybe just a small gesture like holding a door open. I have been in the trophy business for 40 years and I used to run the company that makes the oscar. I am still the biggest competitor I know. And, guess what, I never won a trophy – Feel free to publish this – Bob Lamacki – Chicago area

  • Debra said:

    “And, you know what, I bet it was a lot, maybe just a small gesture like holding a door open.”

    And that’s the problem I have with participation trophies. I don’t expect to be rewarded or recognized for small gestures. I fear we’re raising a generation of recognition junkies who will expect someone to stand up and cheer for the smallest of effort or, even worse, not attempt activities insufficiently rich in recognition.

    Inexpensive mementos? Guess that depends on your perspective. Some families are stretching their budgets just to let their kids play. And I’d much rather spend the $5 or $10 on a book. Kids will get more out of it in the long run.