Participation Awards

I have some words.

First, if you cannot make your point without misrepresenting “the other guy” then you need to sit back and re-evaluate your point before you make it. But that is not what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about the Participation Trophy.

Some people, when they want to smear those younger than them (especially those in the 18-30ish age bracket) discredit what that they have to say by pointing out that these kids are entitled and therefore what they have to say is irrelevant. “Those entitled millenials”. It’s been said enough that’s considered a fact, and whenever you point out someone who isn’t entitled? “Well they are the exception.” Low hanging fruit is the participation trophy. It goes like this: “kids today! They think they are so entitled because they grew up getting a trophy for losing!”

Lets back up and point out a fact: Every generation has thought the new generation are “young punks”. This is not a new thing. Every generation has pointed out how much harder they had it than the younger generation. (One of the greatest mysteries of my life is how even the friends whose parents and grandparents grew up in Southern California said how they walked to school uphill both ways in the snow.)

The participation trophy isn’t rewarding kids for losing or “not trying hard enough” or to “spare their feelings”. It’s to acknowledge hey you participated in this thing- good for you! Sometimes you can give your best and not win. Why should we not encourage kids to try again next time? “That’s what the trophy is for! To have them try harder next time so they’ll win!” you may say. Sometimes no matter how hard you try you will never win. There will always be someone faster or smarter than you. That doesn’t mean the effort you gave is worthless. And that is what the participation trophy is about. To show,  you showed up and you tried.

“But, kids need to learn that in the Real World sometimes you just lose. You don’t get the job, you get dumped, you miss out on the promotion.” Yes, and it stings and is horrible. But technically? Each of those times you get a Real Life Participation Trophy. You learned something. Each job you don’t get, you learn a bit more on interviewing for the next time. Each time a relationship falls apart, you learn how to be a better person next time or see the signs that this isn’t going well.

And those are my words on that topic.