Trophies or Life-Lessons.

by Risa Green


Both of my kids had their last basketball games of the season yesterday. As much as I hemmed and hawed about the weekday practices and the games on the weekends, I’m really glad that they both played. For my daughter, basketball has toughened her up a bit – when she first started playing, if she would get bonked on the nose or the head with a ball, she’d burst into tears and come running off the court. But after discovering that running off the court means she can’t go back into the game until the next time they call subs, she’s learned to shake it off and keep playing. And my son…well, when he started this season, he was totally oblivious. On defense, he would stand in his “box” with one hand up and his other hand in his mouth, facing the wrong way and not even noticing that there was an entire game going on behind him. I won’t pretend that he transformed into an aggressive, dominant player, but at least now when he runs down the court he’s paying attention, and not whispering pyooh-pyooh as he shoots at imaginary bad guys on the side lines.


So yes, basketball has been a positive experience for my kids, and I believe that doing drills and learning to pass and understanding the dynamics of a team are great lessons for both sports and life in general. And that, I think, is a reward in and of itself. But because we live in an age where children must always be made to feel special and important and where having something tangible is always better than having something intangible, simply feeling good about your season is not enough. No, yesterday, after their team parties, my children were both presented with trophies. And not little trophies, mind you. I measured. These trophies are fifteen inches high, and depict golden players dunking in mid-air atop silver and black pillars, with my kids’ names and the names of their teams inscribed into the bases. I mean, if you walked into my son’s bedroom and saw this trophy on his bookshelf, you would think I had a sixteen year-old state champion who was being recruited by Division 1 hoops programs; not a five year-old in the Cheviot Hills Recreational Center’s Little Dribbler’s Division.



All of you moms are right on. Children who are rewarded for mediocrity grow up to have sense of entitlement any business article about how employers are having to deal with the Millennial Generation for proof. dunya tv


They only wanted the top colors and they worked hard to get them. Hang in there. Now if only the school "VIP" or "Star of the Week" thing could end. It was cute in kindergarten and maybe first grade...after 5 years of this the kids all know each other and it's just a pain for the parents.solglasögon


Good work! I always like to leave comments whenever I see something unusual or impressive. I think we must appreciate those who do something especial. Keep it up, thanks
Ingrit Ray
live cricket


I just came across your blog and reading your beautiful words. I thought I would leave my first comment but I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Part of the problem is that parent start their kids younger and younger in sports, and then don't want to teach them the "other side of sports" which is that not everyone can win. So they create these certificates and trophies and then don't want to stop because it is a generation of helicopter parents who can't bear to see their kids suffer or struggle in any imaginable way.


My son receives trophy's at baseball, and they work hard to earn those. Basketball they get a medal, and soccer a certificate. They won first place in their division last year for baseball, and received metals in addition to their trophy. However, they don't receive anything after they finish 3rd grade. I agree it gets a little out of hand....but he know that he won't always be getting those. He is finishing 2nd grade, and the award machine is soon ending.


Amen, Sisters! Earning a reward makes it mean something. Being handed one for just showing up sets such a bad precedent. Doing your best at everything you do is no longer the norm. So many people expect to get paid - and paid well - just for showing up. Minimal effort is put in - the "do it to get it done" mentality. People just want to skate. Not surprising if they were handed trophies for doing nothing as children.


I agree as well. My 4 year old son races BMX. Every kid gets a trophy for their first completed race, after that, they have to earn them. Believe me, he melted down the first time he didn't bring home a trophy but now he knows he has to earn them, they aren't just handed out.


Risa - Mostly agree. It's for the parents and it's ridiculous. I didn't have an issue with the small kindergarten participant trophies but as the years went on the "trophies for all" became more meaningless - even to the kids! Wait a couple years and the "trophies for all" do stop. In the third grade soccer the trophies were only for the first three placed teams and the kids were fine with that. (my kids anyway) Finally! Until the coach on his own decided the kids (his kid?) really needed a trophy and he ordered ones for the whole team. At that point the kids knew only the top teams were getting trophies and they had come in last place. It was actually kind of funny at the end of season party. The kids were like "why are we getting these?"

It does stop. Kids are smart. After one season of swim team my kids had figured out that the ribbons for all times didn't really mean anything. They only wanted the top colors and they worked hard to get them. Hang in there. Now if only the school "VIP" or "Star of the Week" thing could end. It was cute in kindergarten and maybe first grade...after 5 years of this the kids all know each other and it's just a pain for the parents.


I think this comes from parents who never won anything wanting their kids to have what they never had. Um, how about teaching them the right way to win a trophy? Also, what's with the VIP's at school. My teacher-brother-in-law told me that every week, a different kid is the VIP so they all get to be the VIP. What's important about that?