There is winning and losing; No in-between

Competition: The act of competition; rivalry for supremacy, a prize, etc. A contest for some prize, honor or advantage.

Growing up, I was constantly involved in some sort of athletic sport. Whether it was soccer, softball, basketball or track, I thrived on competing. More specifically, I was driven by the emotions attached with triumph, which is why I continued my athletic journey at the collegiate level.

The moments when the final buzzer sounded and the crowd went wild are the happiest memories I have from my childhood, and I will cherish them forever. Those memories are so important to me because I know the amount of blood, sweat and tears that were put in to be able to perform at a level capable of victory. I would hoist the trophy with pride because I knew it was earned — not given.

The feeling of victory is addicting, so addicting that losing would hurt, bad. Winning gave me confidence, but losing, I took to heart. Never once though did I let a loss defeat me. Instead, I would use that pain as fuel to work harder, so the next time I would triumph.

In today’s society, there is no longer winning and losing in children’s athletics. There are the winners who won the competition, and then the winners who participated in the competition. So in all reality, there is no such thing as competition in children’s athletics anymore because everybody gets rewarded for their efforts. What’s up with that?

Participation awards are supposed to motivate young athletes to stay persistent and involved in athletics, which sounds appealing at face value, but I truly believe these awards are more detrimental to children than they are beneficial.

Trophies distributed to everyone conveys the idea that everybody is a winner, which is a completely inaccurate message that could potentially create an unrealistic idea of how life works. Children are basically getting trophies for just showing up to practices and games, regardless of their work ethic or the results of the competition.

Handing out rewards for subpar results shelters children from the realities of the real world.

Outside of the protective realm of childhood, the world can often be unfair, and there are very rarely rewards. Those who are deserving of praise sometimes do not get the recognition, and those who lack motivation and work ethic are swept under the rug. There are no winners and losers, there is a fight for survival.

Dispersing participation awards to the youth of our communities will leave them extremely unprepared for reality. Everything you do as a child, whether it be the activities you are involved in or the people you associate yourself with, helps mold you into the person you are going to be.

If your life is a castle, your childhood is the foundation that holds your structure firm. If you do not have a solid foundation, your castle will fall down. Therefore, if you are used to getting handouts and recognition without work ethic or obvious success, the real world is going to smack you right in the face.

Now I do believe building up the confidence of the youth of our society is important, so they will more courageously face their problems without doubt in their abilities. Therefore participation should be recognized, but never awarded. This way, children will be taught to work hard for the glitz and glamour of trophies and medals, but will also be humbled when they receive a pat on the back for their efforts.

Even though there were no such things as participation awards when I was growing up playing sports and getting involved with activities, I know that I would have been extremely insulted by a hand out award. As bad as losing felt, I am extremely grateful for those times where I did not come out on top, because it kept me hungry for success.

Today’s youth now and the youth of tomorrow are going to feel a sense of entitlement because they never had to earn the rewards they received, they showed up and participated. In college, lack of effort will be shown through your GPA, resulting in troubles finding a job post-graduation. In the workforce, going through the motions will either keep you stagnant in your position or terminated for lack of growth.

Losing is a part of life. It teaches you hard work and determination, and through that hard work you will be rewarded. The sooner children learn that, the better off they will be.The youth needs to learn how to win with grace, but also how to lose and bounce back even stronger. The handouts need to stop so that we, as a society, can stay hungry for success.