Losing: Should Children Get Participation Trophies Essay Example

Losing: Should Children Get Participation Trophies Essay Example
📌Category: Sports, Sports games
📌Words: 1099
📌Pages: 4
📌Published: 10 November 2020

A widely debated issue which has been going on for a long time is whether or not kids should get participation trophies after losing. Many people in our society believe kids should get participation trophies after losing for reasons such as making them feel a part of the team, and making them feel like they have accomplished something important. While these may apply to some kids, letting them lose is much more beneficial for them in the long run. Losing is an important aspect of all children’s lives. If kids don’t experience the grueling feeling of loss because it is masked by participation trophies, kids won’t learn from their own mistakes, they won’t learn sportsmanship, and won’t be motivated to try harder and win the next time they try.

To begin, losing is essential for kids to understand what their mistakes were, so they could work on that skill. In fact, the article “Losing is Good for You,” Jean Twinge, author of a book called “Generation Me” explains that in our society, we will lose more often than we win, and we have to get used to that. Jean Twinge, is one hundred percent correct. If organizations give out participation trophies when kids lose, they will not understand the feeling of loss. Instead, they will only experience the fantastic feeling of a win even if they finish last. The giving of these trophies will not only mask the feeling of a loss, but will cause kids to not know what skill they have to improve on. 

To add on, In the article “Does Sports Participation deserve a Trophy? Let the Parent’s debate begin!” Ashley Merryman, co-author of ‘Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing”, and also wrote the article “Losing is Good for You” explains in the article participation trophies don’t give our kids room to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes.This shows when kids receive participation trophies, they don’t learn what they did wrong. Instead, they focus on what they got - the trophy. When I was little, I would always receive participation trophies on my soccer team at the end of each season. I remember thinking we, as in our team, had accomplished something important, even though we finished close to last. This thought process of mine caused me to not work as hard to improve, and the same applied to all my other teammates. This caused us to finish close to last consistently until I figured out in order to be better, I needed to work harder. 

In addition, losing can also motivate kids to try harder so they could have a better chance of winning the next time they play. To back this up, Ashley Merryman also explains in “Losing is Good for you” awards do not inspire children to succeed, and can cause them to underachieve. This proves when kids receive participation trophies, instead of inspiring them to work even harder, it instead causes kids to not care of what placement they get so they underachieve. They will underachieve because they already know they will get a trophy despite how well they do in the competition. To add on, In the article “Participation awards: Good or Bad?” Sunny Chen explained when children see that they can earn recognition and praise regardless of their effort or ability, it could discourage them from improving their skills. 

This shows when kids already know they are receiving a participation trophy regardless of their effort, it could discourage them to try harder and improve their skills to win. Basically, giving out participation trophies takes away the goal kids should try to achieve. To add even more, an article called “Participation trophies send a dangerous message,” Betty Berdan explained participation trophies contain a dangerous message which is “everyone's a winner”. In our society and where we are right now, that statement is absolutely different from reality. In our reality, people don’t receive rewards for just showing up, they work hard. Participation trophies imply the exact opposite - you just have to show up to receive a trophy. 

Not to mention, losing can also help kids learn and understand sportsmanship. Ashley Merryman also explains in the article “Losing is Good for you” that us as a society needs to start  helping kids overcome setbacks and to graciously congratulate the child who succeeded when they failed. When kids lose and receive participation trophies, they don’t learn to congratulate the actual winner because they also received a trophy. So, they think everyone is the winner. Learning how to overcome setbacks and to graciously congratulate the person who actually succeeded is a very important part of life. When kids grow up, they won’t receive participation trophies for just showing up to work or losing in a sports game. 

So, they won’t know how to cope with it, and will not congratulate the winner. Instead, they will throw a tantrum because they never lost before. To add on, in the article “Winning at all costs… A Good Strategy?” Meera Dolasia, author of the article explains sports is not only about winning, but also sportsmanship, ethics, and integrity. This shows some people think winning is the only option in sports, and they would do anything to achieve it. To do this some athletes cheat such as taking illegal substances such as drugs. Sports is not only about winning though. There is also sportsmanship, ethics, and integrity. When kids win at all costs, even to cheat, they are not learning what sportsmanship, ethics, and integrity are, and are just looking at the outcome. When kids lose because they did not cheat, they will start to understand sportsmanship, ethics, and integrity. 

Even though losing has a substantial amount of benefits for kids, some may think that little kids should not experience serious competitions because it implies that not everyone is a winner. They may believe the little kids are too young, and would be saddened and emotionally damaged from the feeling of loss. This mindset is totally incorrect. If kids do not experience loss, the slower they will develop. If kids experience their first loss when they’re older, they might have a harder time to cope with it than others because they have already experienced the feeling when they were young. This will cause them to learn at a slower rate than others. 

To conclude, given these points it is clear. Letting kids lose rather than masking it with participation trophies is much more beneficial for them in the long run. Some benefits are losing helps kids understand what sportsmanship is, helps them learn from their own mistakes, and motivates them to succeed. 


Berdan, Betty. “Should Every Young Athlete Get a Trophy?” The New York Times, The New York Times, 6 Oct. 2016, 11:43 AM, www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2016/10/06/should-every-young-athlete-get-a-trophy/participation-trophies-send-a-dangerous-message.

Dolasia, Meera. “Winning At All Costs . . . . . . A Good Strategy?” DOGOnews, 28 Apr. 2019, www.dogonews.com/2013/1/20/winning-at-all-costs-a-good-strategy.

Merryman, Ashley. “Losing Is Good for You.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 24 Sept. 2013, www.nytimes.com/2013/09/25/opinion/losing-is-good-for-you.html.

“Participation Awards: Good or Bad?” Novak Djokovic Foundation, 11 Mar. 2016, https://novakdjokovicfoundation.org/participation-awards-good-or-bad/

Wallace, Kelly. “Debate: Does Sports Participation Deserve a Trophy?” CNN, Cable News Network, 18 Aug. 2015, www.cnn.com/2015/08/17/health/participation-trophies-parenting-debate/index.html.


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