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  • Bill Chastain

Participation Trophies and Not Keeping Score. Doesn’t Work for Me.

A recent gym discussion brought conversation concerning participation trophies and not keeping score for youth sports.


Neither of those “time out” generation approaches works for me.

Does that make me a codger?

During my run playing youth sports, trophies were given to the team that won the league and the all-stars of that league. Games were played and both teams knew who won afterward, because the scores were kept.

Somewhere along the way that changed.

If you suit up for a youth sport these days, you get a trophy. And for the younger kids, the scores aren’t kept. The only logical explanation is somebody in charge felt like losing would be too devastating for a kid to handle. As for the trophies, if everybody gets a trophy, nobody feels inferior, right?

So what’s the significance of receiving a trophy if everybody gets one? Why not hand them out at the beginning of the season with the uniforms? Can you find a professional athlete who decided to stick with a sport because he or she got a “participation” trophy just when they were ready to quit the sport?

How many stuck with a sport or felt better about themselves because they didn’t know that they got routed by the blue team when they were 6-years old? What’s the matter with simply playing the game because you love the game? If you don’t love the game, you go find another activity.

I’m now an observer of this climate and not a participant, though my generation of parents were part of the problem through our complacency. We might not have liked it, but we went along with this when we were our raising kids.

Alas, the general opinion of those at the gym — the highest court in my kingdom — agreed that participation trophies and not keeping score are crippling measures for youth preparing to compete in the game of life.

Think about it. If you’re a commission salesman who doesn’t met his or her quota, your employer is not going to give you a participation paycheck. You better know the score.

What do you think?

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