What Was I Thinking: Married/Divorced x 3

A view from my side.

I Believe…That Not Everyone Should Get a Trophy

We live in a competitive world.  In the United States, that is especially true.  If you want to succeed at something, you have to be better than someone else.  You have to work at it.  You have to try hard.  You have to devote time, effort and energy into whatever you are doing to make people stand up and notice.  Even so, there is no guarantee you will be successful.  There is also a certain amount of talent involved.  And talent, you either have or you don’t.

As a teacher and a coach, I have noticed a change in expectations over the years.  Many students and players expect a high standard of achievement with minimal effort.  If they turn in the paper, they expect an A.  If they show up to practice, they expect to play.  Their expectation is fueled by their parents attitudes that their child can do anything if they set their mind to it.  Johnny and Jill have been conditioned to expect honors and awards for as long as they can remember.  I mean, seriously, Pre-K “graduation” ceremonies?

I understand mom/dad want their little bundle of joy to feel good about themselves.  I get that.  But to award them with lavish ceremonies, plaques, trophies and awards for simply participating does them a huge disservice later in life.  It sets in the young child’s mind an unrealistic expectation:  if I show up and participate, I get an award.  They see everyone getting the same award regardless of the level of actual achievement attained.  So they learn to show up, put forth some effort and expect equal rewards with everyone else.

By the time they reach 14, these kids have a sense of entitlement.  They are entitled to play.  They are entitled to a good grade.  They are entitled to recognition.  When they don’t get it, they don’t know how to react.  They’ve never (or rarely) been denied it in the past and they have a hard time dealing with it now.  In their desire to give their child a sense of self-worth, mom/dad have instead created a child that has never experienced failure.

Failure is a great teacher.  To fail at something can be hugely disappointing.  It can hurt so bad it will bring people to tears.  Failure will cull the herd as those not good enough, smart enough, strong enough, fast enough, or willing to work hard enough fall to the wayside.  Failure teaches you what to do differently.  You have to fall off the bicycle a few times in order to learn how to stay upright.  Failing at a single attempt is not failing at life.  In the grand scheme of things, failure is as vital to high levels of achievement as is the hard work and the effort required to excel.

We should hold the accolades and the trophies for those whose level of achievement is truly worthy.  Set the bar so high that only a handful earn the honor.  A 4 year old does not need a cap/gown ceremony with balloons and cake.  Give the players a t-shirt or a ribbon for participating and hold the trophy or the medallion for the winner. Sure there will be tears and disappointment along the way.  Let those be a motivator to work harder and put forth more effort.  Or, let those be the realization that maybe, just maybe, I’m in over my head and need to step down a level.  Sometimes you have to admit to yourself that you are simply not good enough, talented enough, smart enough to achieve at the level you desire.

Why is the Lombardi Trophy so special?  Why is the World Cup Trophy so great?  Why is the title, “World Champion” held in such high regard?  Because not everyone gets to hold those trophies over their heads and call themselves great.  Because it takes hard work, effort and talent to achieve them.  You cannot take talent out of the equation of achievement.  Despite all of my effort, despite all of my hard work, despite all of my desire…I was not talented enough to play professional  athletics.

It can be a hard lesson, but it is one that must be taught.  Creating generations of people with this sense of entitlement will have a huge effect on our society as well.  It will widen the gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots”.  It will create resentment and envy.  It will be destructive and divisive.  We can’t have it both ways.  The tears of failure are better shed while young so the lessons of hard work and effort have a chance to take hold and do their job.

I believe that not everyone should get a trophy.

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71 comments on “I Believe…That Not Everyone Should Get a Trophy

  1. bipolarmuse
    May 27, 2012

    I agree…

  2. susartandfood
    May 27, 2012

    My other half is totally on board with this. He was a soccer coach for his son and he feels it steals strength from the word competition and puts everyone on an equal playing field which is not the case. Why try harder if you’re going to win anyhow? Good post.

  3. reikae
    May 27, 2012

    Well said.

    • Chuck
      May 27, 2012

      thanks

  4. Pingback: No More USSA. Bring back the USA. That is the best way to honor our troops and veterans « HELLO IRAQ

  5. Opinionated Man
    July 26, 2013

    Reblogged this on HarsH ReaLiTy and commented:
    Blog Review –

    Now this was a great read. I really appreciate the link. It made me want to say “if you aren’t first you’re last!” but I won’t steal Ricky Bobby’s line.

    I completely agree with this article and the associations with “entitlement” in this country and some of the world as well. I have spoken on it in a different way, but this is a clear “text book” approach that I can appreciate. Great read!

    Note: This blog review was done in connection with the post “I will do “Ten Reviews.”

    -OM

  6. navaara
    July 26, 2013

    This has been my thoughts for a long time. I don’t have children, but I see my best friend and her kids constantly awarded this and that for everything. She actually has to tell me what the kids had to achieve in order to receive the awards they get in their Taekwondo classes and tournaments. Since I am disabled currently, I am not able to attend and see for myself. I will take her word for it. I am glad you saw this and wrote about it, especially from your point of view of being in the schools. I wonder about the graduation ceremonies as well. Weird! Re-posting. Thanks.

  7. navaara
    July 26, 2013

    Reblogged this on Mind Chatter and commented:
    This has been on my mind for so long, but since I didn’t have children, was afraid to say anything. Now here is someone to say it for me, and covers all the points I have noticed over the years. Seriously, graduation ceremonies for Pre-K through 11th grade? Really? I got one graduation party, High School graduation, and it was at Pizza Hut. No fancy limo, no trips to Tahiti.

  8. Chuck
    July 26, 2013

    I see it all the time. Fortunately, I also see those that work hard and are rightly rewarded for their efforts. It’s good to know that some people still understand the concept and strive to achieve the highest level they can.

  9. Kate
    July 26, 2013

    Thank you!!! I agree! It is so maddening to deal with this attitude in students! Grrrr. Right behind this is when students want extra credit for everything!!! For doing what they should do. “Joe, can you wipe the board for me?” “Will I get extra credit?” Are you kidding me??? Just be a decent human being! Grrr!

    • Chuck
      July 26, 2013

      Or, they expect you to give them an extra credit assignment to make up for a poor grade. When, if they had actually put forth the effort in the first place, their original grade would probably have been high enough on its own!

      • Kate
        July 26, 2013

        Exactly!! So true. I tell them upfront that there is no extra credit for missed work; just do your work.

        Thanks for commiserating! lol

      • Chuck
        July 26, 2013

        You’re welcome. Thanks for stopping by. And, enjoy the rest of your summer!

  10. Elaine
    July 26, 2013

    Very well said! This entitlement society we live in really alarms me. How nice it is to hear someone speak common sense.

    • Chuck
      July 26, 2013

      Thank you for the kind words. I don’t know how much common sense I actually have, but from time to time I like to think I have something worth saying.

  11. Elaine
    July 26, 2013

    Great post! Nice to hear some common sense spoken! This entitlement society we live in really alarms me. It is just so unrealistic. Thanks for posting this.

  12. greenelephantperson
    July 26, 2013

    I agree on most of this though, I disagree on some. I don’t think it’s so bad to give a five-year-old a trophy after a tournament. When I was this age, I enjoyed being rewarded like this. I went to every practice and I ran around that soccer field until it hurt, and I won’t lie, it felt good to know that it paid off. I didn’t have a kindergarten graduation ceremony, but I understand the intention. Doing this makes that kid feel like going to school was worth it, not to mention that he or she might be more excited to go to school the next year. That being said, positive encouragement is good, but at some point it does get ridiculous, so I agree with you on that.
    Sorry, that was a long comment. Great post though!

    • Chuck
      July 27, 2013

      Thanks for the comments. And I do understand your points. Yes, it is nice for the 5 year old to have something tangible. That was why I suggested giving them the t-shirt. They could actually wear that to school and show it off! LOL And I’m not advocating elimination of positive reinforcement by any means. I certainly know the value of it and use it daily in the classroom and on the field. But I also know what a motivator it can be to watch someone else get the “big prize” of the trophy.

      Thanks for stopping by and for sharing your thoughts.

  13. realistatlarge
    July 27, 2013

    Great post! As a parent of 3 (19, 5 and 2 years old) I too don’t believe that everyone deserves a trophy! What are we doing as parents, letting them think they’re all the same? I don’t want my kids to be the same! They’re going to excel is something and really suck in others, its the reality of it! What do these kids think when they graduate school? They immediately rise to the corner office with the great view making $100000+? They’re going to have one rude awakening!
    I even tried, when i worked as a retail manager to help these kids realize mom and dad can’t do it all for them. My favorite conversation, had to of been when a mom tried to call their 18 year old out sick. I simply said, you aren’t my employee, put your son on the phone.
    Sorry!
    Great post! Loved it!!

    • Chuck
      July 27, 2013

      LOL…what a story! But I’ve read many an article about parents calling in or calling for their adult children. I tell the parents of my players that when their child can’t be at practice, I want to hear it from HIM, not from mom or dad.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. And good luck with the kids! Whew…I can relate to that, too!

  14. Dish With Clarissa
    July 27, 2013

    This post is spot on!

    • Chuck
      July 27, 2013

      Thanks!

      • Dish With Clarissa
        July 27, 2013

        I normally would comment further, but my brain is fried. I do really appreciate the strong message, so many youngsters feel “entitled” in one way or another, and they need to learn that it is okay if you fail at first, its how we learn to get better.

  15. MJDeibert
    July 27, 2013

    I absolutely agree with this, and have for many years, ever since I first saw it when my son was young and “everyone is a winner.” I see this notion of entitlement everywhere with younger people who make me wonder what they are entitled to, what did they do to earn any kind of entitlement to anything. I also believe it is this false sense of entitlement that sparks a lot of violence in young people these days because they don’t know how to deal with losing or not getting their way.

    • Chuck
      July 27, 2013

      I do wonder, sometimes, when I read about an otherwise “normal” young adult that has done something horrendous or awful…what on Earth could have sparked it. A temper tantrum gone bad, perhaps?

      Thanks for reading and for your comments.

  16. causemonisays
    July 27, 2013

    I thoroughly enjoyed as this post as I almost blogged about taking my two younger kids to the county fair where a game was played in which all the children under 5 received a 1st place ribbon. My first reaction was not “How nice!” and I walked away rather disappointed in not knowing if one of my kids truly won the highest number of points and why they didn’t decide to give one 1st place and other honorable mentions. I do participate in the “Pre-K” graduations and the two hour long 8th grade ceremony even though those were unheard of before, but I strongly agree that failure and rejection (my kid is an actor) can teach volumes. Sorry about the novel.

    • Chuck
      July 27, 2013

      I attended a Pre-K Graduation last year. This year, at a different school, Kid#4 did not have a “graduation” ceremony, but the class did put on a program that acknowledged they were moving on to the next level in their lifetime of learning. It was an unexpected, but very pleasant program.

      Actors can certainly tell us all about rejection! And perseverance! May your kid be blessed with many broken legs! 🙂

  17. atlanticcus
    July 27, 2013

    The fact is most of the people want to appear better than others. Which is totally ridiculous. Life is not about this. Life is about how much did u understand it, and how much u did for others. I remember when I was a teenager I didnt care whatsoever who is better or worse. And in fact I kind of enjoyed to be out of group and out of those competitive people. They live in pain and superficial ‘happiness’ you cannot even call it a happiness Id call it a egotistic emptiness that only creates hate.

    • Chuck
      July 27, 2013

      You bring up a good point. For those that seek the awards, the awards are often “empty”. For those that seek excellence, the awards are simply a by product.

      • atlanticcus
        July 27, 2013

        Ha now that reminds me of when people buy expensive clothes and Posh handbags 😉 ……they think some stupid bag will add to their value because maybe the truth is they are poor especially spiritually. I once promised myself I am gonna buy myself a Chanel bag because Coco used to be my hero and a female idol. So I was browsing some bags on the internet and when Ive seen those ridiculous prices like even 5000 euros for a super small bag, and how many were already sold out. I though for myself. Whoo the f……. is buy hundreds of thousands pieces of this insanely overpriced shit made in China??? That was the day I decided not ever bother to support this superficial and evil companies. Yes to me they r evil because they are living out of human ignorance, superficiality and waste – such handbags and clothing is A TROPHY people think they can buy 😉 . Id rather give 5000 to an animal shelter.

  18. Lilith Colbert
    July 27, 2013

    This kind of thing makes me CRAZY!! LOL! To think that I grew up when there was a clear winner and a clear loser – but now mommy and daddy don’t want to have little Johnny/Julie be called a loser so OMG GIVE THEM A TROPHY SO THEY WON’T FEEL LEFT OUT!!

    Please.

    In the real world, you WILL be left out, you WILL be picked last for the team (or not at all) – it’s the fact of life. Conforming and doing everything someone wants will only make a nation of robots, of sheep, following behind to the inevitable slaughter in the arrogance of thinking “Oh, if I just do the minimum, I’ll get by and be FAMOUS!!”

    It also doesn’t help that people with NO talent (Honey Boo Boo, Kardashians, Teen Moms) get glorified and popularized by the mainstream media.

    • Chuck
      July 27, 2013

      Yeah, what’s up with that anyway? I understand reality TV is cheaper to produce, but seriously? I get enough real life drama in my own real life. 🙂

  19. technophile9
    July 27, 2013

    This was very true… what else to say? I think all the good comments have been taken…

  20. OyiaBrown
    July 27, 2013

    Reblogged this on Oyia Brown.

  21. Sophie
    July 27, 2013

    The trophy thing has almost become an American stereotype- they are the only ones (practically) who still haven’t set the bar and made it clear. Also, that thing with the pre-k graduation? Ridiculous!
    Anyways, great post!

    http://theneonpapaya.wordpress.com
    http://theneonpapaya.wordpress.com
    http://theneonpapaya.wordpress.com

    • Chuck
      July 27, 2013

      Thanks. We Americans like to think of ourselves as special. 🙂

  22. InfoJunkie
    July 27, 2013

    I agree completely. Excellent post.

  23. bamauthor
    July 27, 2013

    Totally agree! The modern generation mentality of entitlement is a big factor in the greed and corruption that plagues our society today.

  24. pankajrawat
    July 27, 2013

    Perfect and I am re-blogging this!

    • Chuck
      July 27, 2013

      Thanks! I appreciate the thought. Will be checking out your blog soon.

  25. pankajrawat
    July 27, 2013

    Reblogged this on Dil Se….

  26. Susan P
    July 27, 2013

    So very true.

  27. Susan P
    July 27, 2013

    Reblogged this on The Curious Introvert and commented:
    I believe this, too.

  28. Trinity Rivers
    July 27, 2013

    Well said and I totally agree with you. This entitlement mind set is my own personal nightmare at the moment with my daughter and grand son. I never treated them this way to expect a reward just for showing up, but as one woman I have not succeeded in turning back the tide of an entire culture leading them to believe in theory of getting a trophy just for falling out of bed in the morning.

    • Chuck
      July 27, 2013

      and it seems like a tidal wave at times!

  29. refinedrandomness
    July 27, 2013

    I agree !!!..Hi, Im Ellie…….and gave you a follow.

    • Chuck
      July 27, 2013

      Hi, Ellie. Thanks. I’ll be sure to stop by your blog soon. 🙂

  30. The Writing Waters Blog
    July 27, 2013

    Yes! I agree. The only time I saw kindergarten graduation exercises seem valuable was in a very low income, high immigrant area where parents sometimes for the first time heard from a speaker about the value of education for their children.

    • Chuck
      July 27, 2013

      Good point!! That would make sense at least. Thanks for the comment and for stopping by.

  31. dalo2013
    July 27, 2013

    Great post. Nothing beats hard work and dedication that defines success, whether the result is a trophy or not. Just showing up these days seems to be enough, and it sucks to have that rewarded…people need to stretch their abilities and enhance their focus these days to really get the enjoyment/happiness of life. Cheers.

    • Chuck
      July 27, 2013

      They do indeed. Thanks for the comment!

  32. queenofone
    July 27, 2013

    Reblogged this on The Human Condition and commented:
    Entitlement a great topic for today. My sons have not been raised with the said mindset of we all are winners. I am a competitive person and they are as well in their own ways. But like myself they are becoming teens and yound adults and with that is a sense of entitlement. Perhaps its the perception that you have paid your childhood dues and now are entitled to adult respect and privileged. Sadly that seems not to encompass the adult responsibility that comes with that lofty achievement of reaching 18..

  33. jensine
    July 27, 2013

    so are you sending em one in the post?

  34. KBT
    July 27, 2013

    As a parent, I agree. I think that is important to place the blame where it lies however… with parents. Our children are products of their parents behavior. The coaches, teacher and parents have the power to stop “entitlement” of their children, before they reach adulthood. It indeed feels good to do a good job- one with all of the effort you can muster and that in itself should be praised. Showing up does not get the job done.

    • Chuck
      July 27, 2013

      You are absolutely right, as parents, teachers, coaches…responsible adults, it is up to us to instill a sense of responsibility in our children. But there are other forces at work as well and the battle is on multiple fronts.

      • KBT
        July 27, 2013

        I am curious what other forces you think are at work. Who else raises our children? And if we don’t “like” the other forces, then it is still up to us to say or do something. Parents need to take responsibility for their children. Its not an easy job by any stretch… but if we don’t like something then WE must change it. My 12, 10, 7 and 5 yo certainly can’t.

      • Chuck
        July 27, 2013

        Other forces are mostly made up of their peers. They may see/learn one thing at home, but see something completely different at school and at play. Some parents are part of the problem. The term ‘Helicopter Parent” best describes them.

        Another force at play is popular culture. As Lilith Colbert said above, when kids see people with no real talent being popularized in mainstream media it sends a mixed message.

        And, of course, society overall has gone reward crazy. Many schools try to make sure everyone gets mentioned in the awards ceremony. Many athletic clubs hand out trophies to everyone.

        These are not “new” forces, they have been there for years. And not every such organization participates. I agree, wholeheartedly that parents are the primary influence, but they really face an uphill battle.

  35. Forge-Silvershield
    July 28, 2013

    I think this sense of entitlement is complete and utter crap. I never got that growing up and trust me; I worked for everything that I have. It means a hell of a lot more to actually EARN what you deserve than having it handed to you. Thank you for saying something that NEEDS to be said to the youth of America!

    • Chuck
      July 28, 2013

      And thank you for stopping by. I appreciate the comments.

  36. Written Obessions
    July 28, 2013

    Couldnt agree more

    • Chuck
      July 28, 2013

      Thanks. And thanks for stopping by.

  37. npresa
    July 29, 2013

    Amen! I teach at the college level and they are becoming more and more entitled everyday!

  38. Kelley Bode
    July 29, 2013

    I completely agree. Being as competitive as I am has brought me so much in life. I am more independent, make more money, learned a lot more in school simply because I was competing against my peers. In my youth, before I understood the importance of a dollar or a good education, I strived for more through competition. And now that I know the importance of these things, I have already achieved them. It annoys me to no end when people say you should only be competing with yourself. Where is the motivation in that? And yes, parents want their children to feel good about themselves. I think that is very important. However, all these general trophies, etc. only make the driven students less motivated. If I knew that everyone would get a trophy no matter what, then I would either not bother or I would be upset that my extra work was not rewarded. I think parents need to put more faith in their children that they will be this driven, ambitious, competitive child and not limit them instead of assuming they will fail and thus trying to fix the problem ahead of time.

    • Chuck
      July 29, 2013

      Absolutely. Thanks for the comment. And like you, I found avenues to succeed through competition with my peers. If I didin’t like being picked “last” for a team in whatever game we were playing, I knew I had to get better at that game. Pretty simple, really.

  39. charlessnarls
    July 29, 2013

    While I agree that there’s a disturbing sense of entitlement born of instant gratification and the barrage of awards and achievements that are handed to children, I don’t lay as much blame on the “everybody’s a winner” attitude. I do think there’s something to the expectation of success with minimal effort from all the trophies and awards, but I also believe the competitive nature of the previous generation causes a crippling fear of failure that causes children (and later, adults) to avoid activities or situations they won’t be immediately good at or don’t believe they’ll be granted easy passage/success.

    What I’m trying to say is, while there’s truth to the fact that children are brought up believing they don’t have to try, just as much I fault the overwhelming pressure parents, particularly self-conscious, predominantly middle-class parents who consider themselves “professional go-getters” or whatever. The reason they put their kids in all these activities isn’t to enrich the child’s sense of well-being, but to bolster their own egos. Children are extensions of the parent, as overly competitive parents want children who are “better than the Joneses” children.

    What you get are children who are addicted to success but absolutely terrified of failure–because if he or she lost at something, daddy fumed on the drive home, or mommy recommended a better diet. When parents take their children’s losses personally, it’s traumatic to the child. If I can wax poetic, it becomes a formula of Win = Love, Lose = Death. They don’t want to try because trying by its very nature involves plenty of failures along the way. They merely want to win, because our over-competitive culture and their image-obsessed parents taught them that winning is the only way to mean anything in life.

    It’s been my opinion that the most “successful” people I’ve met–those making $100,000+ a year with big houses, nice cars, and picturesque families–have developed the absolute worst skills to get there. I mean, being around those people is depressing. Every moment is a competition. That’s what makes them good for their masters: addicted to winning means easy to manipulate. That’s why the Boomers are employers’ favorite generation. The Boomers have a pronounced need to succeed, probably because they saw their own parents respond to the Depression and the lingering psychological effects of poverty. A Boomer is more likely to froth at the mouth for a new title and to turn a blind eye to excessive overtime. The millennials’ attitude toward work is largely “a means to an end.” Work is what you do because you have to. I’m troubled by entitlement, but overall I don’t see the decline in competitive drive as a step backward at all.

    Great post though! First thing I saw this morning, which is why I’ve given it such an unexpectedly lengthy response.

    • Chuck
      July 29, 2013

      I see the parents living vicariously through their children all the time. Mom or dad projecting their childhood onto their sons/daughters. The dad that was moderately good at baseball wanting his son to be the star hitter. The mom that was always a member of the players in the high school productions that wants her daughter in the leading role in every play.

      You make several good points, as have many other respondents. I think perhaps a follow-up post is in the works. Thanks for stopping by.

  40. corporatetomommyin2
    July 31, 2013

    It’s like you took the words right out of my mouth…LOVE THIS POST.

    • Chuck
      July 31, 2013

      Thanks. Feel free to pass it on. 🙂

  41. Killingdanse
    August 1, 2013

    As a former teacher I cannot agree with you more. I was once reprimanded because I refused to have each child be a “Winner,” and used competition in my classroom as a learning tool. It is important to recognize each child’s strength and weaknesses. After all if you can’t know your weaknesses until you fail at something and if you don’t know them then you can’t compensate for them.

    • Chuck
      August 1, 2013

      Interestingly enough for me, I teach Debate. There is a “winner” and a “loser” for every round. They are literally “judged” every time they debate, whether it be in class or at a tournament. They develop a very thick skin about the label (winner/loser) and always focus on the “why” they won or lost.

      With my soccer teams, I do something similar. I even prepped my younger team for it last night, telling them rarely does a team score a goal without a breakdown somewhere in the run of play. Someone stabbed at the ball, someone failed to drop into space and defend, someone failed to pick up a runner, we leave a man unmarked in the box, etc. I told them I will break down every goal scored against us in terms of where we broke down and who failed to do what. I let them know it isn’t personal, but that without analyzing what we as a team did wrong, we can’t fix it and work to prevent it the next time.

      As you said, you can’t compensate for errors, mistakes if they aren’t pointed out to you.

      Thanks for your comment and reading the post.

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This entry was posted on May 27, 2012 by in I Believe, Life, Philosophy, Sports and tagged , , , , , , .
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