Disclaimer: This blog is a way of expressing my personal opinions thoughts and anecdotes, as well as my personal understanding of the scriptures, and conference addresses. It is not meant as a statement of doctrine, and may not necessarily reflect the views, thoughts, or doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

17 August 2015

Participation Trophies as seen from a type B coach

So, there's a news story going around, or more so someone famous tweeting something and everyone either cheering or disdaining that tweet, which I think is interesting and possibly a controversial subject: Participation trophies. Some are especially praiseworthy of the tweet, as seen here http://louderwithcrowder.com/steelers-player-james-harrison-wants-his-sons-to-grow-into-men-will-return-participation-trophies/

So basically James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers found out his children received participation trophies for a sporting activity (I'm assuming football, although it is one of many moderately important details of the narrative that are lacking thus far).

This post is probably one that would be deemed controversial for me to write about since the above mentioned article says that this would enrage liberals and such, of which I typically don't characterize myself. But I do find issue with the articles and the tweet, and not just because I'm a Ravens fan and don't like the Steelers at all. 

When I say issue, I am of course not enraged or plan on fighting free speech or anything like that: obviously he can say and do whatever he wants to raise his family and I'm none the worse for wear. I do not like, however, the idea that all participation recognition is bad. If his kids were in their 10th year of the sport, or something that was competition or tournament based, by all means, recognizing everyone who participated would be a bit redundant. 

Although this may come as a shock to some, recieving a blanket trophy does not make the kids think they have won.

I coach soccer for U5-U6 kids (the ones where we don't "keep score" and where everyone on each team gets a trophy). Aghast! I know. Save your comments for the end. When I started coaching over a year ago, I probably wondered how not keeping scores and everyone receiving a trophy would effect everyone. I am also closely identify with Type B more than type A personalities, so I wasn't having Two-a-days in the rain with 5 year olds. We would just "do our best". But guess what? Those kids all knew what the score was and who "lost" even though adults weren't always telling them. I would tell them the score if they asked, but honestly they would keep track better than me sometimes (because coaching and refereeing 5-6 year olds is daunting). 

Which brings a new point. I gave the trophies for a variety of reasons. Besides the league asking me to, I realized the growth that these kids would achieve by playing. We were asking 5-6 year old kids to participate in a sport that many hadn't played before with people that they've never met on days and nights that they would probably rather be doing other things (Saturday morning every week?).

The author above compared jobs to sports saying that he's never gotten "good job accolades" at his job. But guess what? I'm sure he got paid for his job. I'm sure there were some perks to it (although comparing his life to children's is odd, because he probably doesn't still get his lunch packed for him, or have people but his clothes for him, but maybe he does). The only accolades that come from participating in some sports are fruit and Popsicles at the end of the game and during breaks, as well as a reminder of an awesome season of learning new skills, meeting new people, and winning a few games. 

While some wouldn't said "doing your best" should be rewarded, I like coming to work because I like to get paid. There are other benefits, but that's a nice perk. Getting paid is synonymous with keeping a job, and recognizes that individual for what they have done. So do "participation trophies". Kids don't get paid to be there, they spend money, time, effort, and extra sandwiches every week to do something that they chose to do (or that their parents are having them do to fulfill unfulfilled dreams of being a superstar and getting to college on a scholarship). 

So before we speak down to the kids, assuming they think that a trophy is synonymous with winning (because the five year olds picked up on that), it's a way to recognize hard work, dedication, skillsets, social skills, and not playing video games, which are all things I want my children to pick up on, and why as a coach I will always offer whatever I can to recognize them. 

True competition is more than being better than everyone else, it's about being better than your prior self. 


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