Trophies are for Winning

Should kids be given trophies for playing sports, even when they don't win? Former Olympian and LA Galaxy soccer star Cobi Jones thinks they’re destructive.

Comments (9)

(8) Dvirah, January 16, 2018 7:14 PM

How Far to Go?

We need to balance between building motivation and making being "a winner" - or even "the winner" - so important that a person - child or adult - will just refuse to continue an activity unless he/she was the "star".
For example, in a symphony orchestra the violin section has two rows, so some must sit in the second row. If violinists refused to play with the orchestra unless they all had front row positions, the orchestra could never have a full violin section.
So yes, sometimes we do need to realize that it's OK to be second or even third best in an activity.

(7) Nancy, January 5, 2018 12:36 PM

To commenter Canuck

IMO the child's mother who screamed "Kick him with your skate!" should have been told to leave the game. That behavior is egregious. Did your son continue with peewee hockey after that experience?

(6) Kenny, January 5, 2018 12:43 AM


Not to mention, my kids have many trophies cluttering up the house, only two are for actually winning.

(5) Heather, January 4, 2018 10:17 PM

No one "deserves" a trophy

Praising the process of a child's ability it better than a trophy for being there. For example, instead of saying, "you are a winner" or "you are a loser" it is best to say, "You worked really hard to run better this season and you did it." or "All of your evening practices really paid off when you scored that goal today."
Kids know that trophies mean nothing when everyone gets one, they are not stupid. Encouraging a child doesn't mean they have to get a ribbon or a trophy...

(4) Alan, January 4, 2018 7:12 PM


In my opinion, it depends on the ages of the participants. At young ages (e.g., age 7 and younger) the idea of competition isn’t well formed. The goal often is simply participation. Otherwise, I agree that trophies are for winners.

(3) Ari, January 4, 2018 4:18 PM

I hear his point but it's not that simple...

Usually, I agree with aish articles and even the majority of Prager videos but this one seems oversimplified. Yes, we need our children to experience loss as both an incentive to improve and also to be able to better cope with the inevitable imperfect moments in life.
But, there are many factors to consider in regards to the potential use of participation trophies. Some of these factors include the particular athletic abilities of the child, the parent's goal for the child's participation in this athletic activity, and how many other "participation trophies" this child gets in other areas of life.
For most children who are not playing sports to become professional athletes, it is much more important to learn to play hard, with a smile, to lose at times, and develop overall good teamwork and sportsmanship abilities.

(2) lewis sare, January 4, 2018 2:40 PM

I totally disagree

An award for trying makes one want to do better. If you have children and you drive them rather that encouraging them, too bad for you and your kids. Have you ever seen the look on a young kid that gets a trophy or medal? I have. It makes them and gives them the desire to try to do better. You were successful. Self praise stinks. LS

(1) Nancy, January 2, 2018 8:20 PM

I agree with you to a point

Re: Getting a trophy just for showing up. I too am against that concept. However, there is another side to amateur sports which this video ignored. When I was young and participated in an athletic activity, I was screamed at and called names if I dropped the ball. Is THIS the type of behavior we want to model for our children? Of course I did not want to drop the ball and my team probably lost whatever game we were playing that day. Losing the game only bothered me for a very short period of time, but being called "spaz" and "uncoordinated" stayed with me for a lifetime. Losing a game and experiencing failure are important parts of life, but being subjected abuse and taunting should NEVER be.

Canuck, January 5, 2018 3:03 AM

And I agree with you totally, Nancy.

What you related makes me recall an incident when my first son was 5 or 6. Like many Canadian dads I took him to try out for "peewee" hockey. Being a bit awkward on the ice, he mistakenly got in the way of another kid who was trying to score a goal. At which point that kid's mother screamed, "Kick him with your skate!" That hyper-competitive parental attitude was (& perhaps still is) quite typical of the winning-is-everything mentality.


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