Opinion: Participation trophies in youth sports hold athletes back

Opinion: Participation trophies in youth sports hold athletes back

Andrew Barrett, Staff Writter

As summer comes closer and youth soccer and baseball kick into gear, a recurring question arises: Should kids continue to be awarded participation trophies?

Participation trophies are becoming more popular as the years go on in youth sports. But they are holding back kids from putting forth their best effort.

Ever since I was a little kid, I have played many sports, most of which would give out participation trophies. They were cool to have as a kid, but I think it brings out a lazy side in a child. 

When I started off in baseball, many kids would sit in the outfield doing nothing because they knew the team that would win the league championship would get the same thing as themselves – a trophy. This caused them to put forth their least effort and still get the reward.

As I got older, I started to realize that participation awards are valueless. They are awards to make each and every single player feel good about themselves. 

But as the competition got harder as everyone got older, the participation awards disappeared. Sure enough, all of those kids who would sit in the outfield waiting for their trophies ended up quitting.

Now that I am a junior in high school, as a three-year varsity runner on the track and cross country teams, I have seen most levels of competition. I have seen the most competitive teams in the WPIAL, and I have also seen teams featuring kids with no care for the sport.

Athletes are much more motivated when there is a real reward for being the best. The real awards create a more competitive nature in sports because everyone is working their hardest to earn it. When everyone is working hard, the competition continually goes up, which widens the range of improvement for all of the athletes within a league.

I believe the removal of participation awards would result in athletes putting forth much more effort in their youth years. They would then end up as much more successful athletes who have worked to their full potential later on.