The Beacon

Are today’s children receiving too many trophies?

Brandon Belfonti, Staff Writer

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We live in a very “funny” time right now.

A time where everyone deserves something. Something for anything and that is dangerous.

It’s a scary reinforcer of the upcoming generation. The typical memory of receiving a participation trophy for that fall soccer league rings a bell. Until leaving for college I had all of my trophies lined up on the dresser and now that I think about it, the participation ones looked the same as the time we won that prestiged tournament. Team Arsenal ran the place, a little shout out.

The point is that they were replicas and it devalued the world out of what we accomplished from a visual. Yeah, just being there is maybe seventy percent of the work, but that deserves a trophy?

It’s as if the reward of the experience itself is being diminished greatly and that mindset is only increasing. There is a reason the best team gets something to separate them from the rest and that is because they were better at whatever was being done.

Why does that feel like an insult in today’s society? I’m not really sure.

People work at things and become skilled at them and the rewards are as such. An excuse for lesser ability is provided by these equal trophies. It only kills the ability of the entire population. I’ll explain.

If everyone gets a trophy for whatever ability they have from the start, then they will be satisfied. There will be no drive to improve because they have the same reward as the winners. Since they do not care to improve and win the actual battle, then the real winners do not have to work as hard to … well, win.

There is probably a term for this somewhere, but that is how it goes and it is cynical. It is cynical because we are taking away the basic lesson of what work does.

It applies to so much more than a little soccer tournament, even though we will all reminiscence about such things for eternity. “I am not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best” James Harrison, Steelers Linebacker, once wrote on instagram.

If you tried your hardest on that math test, but got a 50 percent, you would not be happy with that reward. You would either say math is not your thing or you would go study harder to raise that grade.

Why have we morphed the boundaries for our growing generation? Why have we made it easier? Because we simply can. We control these things.

We want kids to be happy and feel accomplished with confidence. It is well-meaning, to bring a smile to your child’s face.

That is now, that is the present, but I can promise you that a lesser work ethic is not. Math scores do not lie and soccer scores do not lie – so why must we treat one as a fake number.

Those little trophies are tricky. They represent more than one would like to think. One might argue that it’s just a dumb soccer game and little medal.

No, it is a memory, it is real, and it is going to have some psychological impact somewhere because the lesson must be taught at some point or hell, “Why didn’t I get into Harvard? I tried my hardest!” will be a reasonable statement down the road.

Here is a take from somebody who knows works and definitely knows winning:

“I said, ‘Well listen, get the fourth place trophy, go home. You take the fourth place trophy, you put it up right where you can see it, and when you wake up in the morning, you look at the trophy and you remind yourself of what you’ll never win again,” that is Kobe Bryant, five time NBA champion, telling his kids they can either put that trophy up on the wall for fun or throw it away and learn how to win.

It seems that people find this harsh. They are right. Many like to just be there and that satisfies their wants. Those people usually don’t care too much about winning either.

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Are today’s children receiving too many trophies?