Just a trophy?? Well you can count me out. I’m currently getting rid of junk piles, not acquiring them. While you’re at it, keep the medals too. I have run out of hooks to hang those as well.
If the gold standard of a successful season is a trophy then we are getting cheated. That cheap 6$ piece of plastic should never be the goal. Don’t get me wrong, I love to win. I believe the goal of competing is in fact, TO WIN! That hopefully happens when kids put in hard work and reach for something difficult, and not because they played their A team in the C bracket. A championship season is incredibly fun and exhilarating! But when it’s over, we leave with memories of the journey and the personal development and growth of overcoming and stretching ourselves. That’s the real prize. So what happens if you didn’t win? Are you less valuable as a person? Are you a failure, unworthy, untalented? Does a trophy fix that sort of broken thinking or perpetuate it? If confidence and the tools to provide a growth mindset and motivation came inside a trophy then it would make a little more sense – but we know they don’t.
We can create those great memories and provide a positive learning experience, and the confidence that they can conquer and get better every season, even when we don’t have the personnel to carry home that hunk of plastic at the end. Sure, you can give us a trophy anyway, just for showing up, to make us feel better, but is that really a prize? Do we really think kids are coming back to a program for the trophies? If you think that, then you haven’t tried to play with one recently. They aren’t much fun and our shelves are running out of space. Perhaps you’d like to take a look at my daughter’s recent trophy for girls’ lacrosse. It was a golden man, with an old school football helmet on that they added a pony tail and a lacrosse stick and a kilt too. It’s actually so hideous we take it out to entertain people and then hide it away from sight. I took a picture of it for you, just in case you get inspired.
I don’t want a trophy to be the mark of a successful season. Not for myself and not for my kids. There are plenty of kids out there who played in down into a lower skill bracket, had a stacked team and won every single game, but managed to miss out on the incredibly large pile of awesomeness that sports can bring. They went home with a trophy and nothing else.
I expect and sincerely hope for more out of my kids athletic experience, as a developing child and young adult, then some trophies and winning streaks.
So in case you’re wondering, here’s a list of things way better than a trophy.
1. Best friends, who love to learn and compete in the same activities, who have seen you struggle, and have seen you succeed, and love you either way.
2. Confidence in mastering new things
3. Belief in a future that improves with hard work and focus
4. Healthy habits, love of activity
5. Being a part of something bigger than yourself, where your actions and attitude can affect the outcome of an entire group, and where they can affect you too.
6. Learning to get back up, learning that falling is not failing but a part of learning
7. Learning to anticipate, not just react, to be a step ahead, to be prepared
8. Problem solving skills
9. Healthy love of competition
10. Lifting up others and realizing how good that can make you feel
What did you get out of your sports experience to add to this list? Or maybe you weren’t so fortunate; what do you wish you had gotten from it? Would you trade any of those take-aways with a trophy if you were offered that chance? Would you trade the outcome of a game to get a win for one of those take-aways?
If we focused as much effort on giving young athletes a great experience, a safe place to explore and learn, and the guidance to navigate their way through it as much as we focused on whether or not they all need trophies or just the absolute winners need trophies, we’d have a much better offering for kids these days.