August 25, 2015
The Trophy Debate -- Give kids some credit

By Mike Woitalla

I'm not a big fan of trophies. They tend to be gaudy and overpriced. At the same time, I find it amusing when people get all riled up about kids nowadays getting trophies they don't deserve. As if that's really a major problem.

Many times I’ve heard the diatribes about how when we were children we had to win to get a reward and now they give them to everyone. They call them “participation trophies” and the issue became big news recently when NFL linebacker James Harrison boasted on Instagram that he took away from his 6- and 8-year-old sons their participation trophies.

“I'm not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned and I'm 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,” wrote Harrison.

Harrison was widely hailed. There is an irony in considering parenting advice from someone who was arrested for assault and admitted to slapping his son’s mother in the face, and whose pitbull sent his boy to the hospital for three days. Regardless, the participation trophy issue is much ado about nothing -- because children are much smarter than they’re given credit by those who think a piece of plastic will make them soft and unambitious for the rest of their lives.

Kids keep score. They understand the difference between a participation trophy and a winner’s medal.

I certainly don’t think there’s anything wrong with giving young children a memento at the end of the season, regardless of the win-loss record. Better than a trophy, I’ve always thought, is a team picture or a photo collage from the season. That’s something they’re more likely to cherish years down the road than a trophy.