The Kids Are Alright: Participation Trophies

Participation trophies have become the hobby horse of choice for armchair sociologists nowadays. Seems like every pseudo-intellectual craving attention (I’m looking at you Simon Sinek) is hand-wringing about how participation trophies are destroying society as we know it and all our kids will grow up to join al qaeda because they don’t have that mamba mentality.

Whenever someone brings participation trophies, my immediate reaction is “Trophies? How much money this kids’ league got?” Those things are expensive, bruh. When I was a competitive swimmer we didn’t even get trophies for coming first; we got ribbons. When I was awarded MVP of my high school rugby team I got a shitty little plaque. How much are these little leagues hitting up parents for anyway??

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How to feel better about yourself: Disparage everyone born the decade after you

What surprises me most about this discussion is that these people seem to be directing their anger at the kids. HURRDURR THIS IS WUTS WRONG WIT MILENNIALS. And I’m thinking, the kids didn’t ask for this. They know the difference. They know these participation trophies–or whatever the fuck they’re getting–are bullshit. Half of them would probably rather be home playing video games or at the skate park (funny how we don’t seem to value competition in these areas as much as organized sports). It’s for the parents. Y’know, those needy, psychotic parents who pick fights with other parents and coaches while their ten-year olds kick around a soccer ball. They’re the ones who need to be validated. And that’s what drives me insane about this debate over participation trophies. It’s all, “milennials are awful b/c they got participation trophies,” when it should be “what is it about boomers and gen x’ers that feel the need to constantly have their poor parenting skills rewarded.”

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I bet whoever made this is a real cool dude

But for the sake of argument, let’s say this thing is as bad as your annoying uncle on Facebook says it is. Is athletic success as a kid really that great an indicator for later success in life? Did all those hot shit jocks you grow up with go on to make the cover of Fortune 500? I’m guessing not. The great young athlete who grows up to be a loser obsessed with the Glory Days is a well-earned stereotype. In fact, I’m pretty sure Bruce Springsteen wrote a song about it…

Then again, Donald Trump, who claims to have been the best baseball player in New York, is now president, so I guess there’s always exceptions. I wonder if it was difficult to play with all those bone spurs?

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that pitch had yuuuge velocity!

With people screaming “if you ain’t first yer last” like Ricky Bobby, you’d think we didn’t value anything in sports beyond who’s the winner and who’s the loser. But that’s not true at all. Look at the backlash guys like LeBron James and Kevin Durant faced when they went to better teams to win championships. Or how much people resent Tom Brady and the Pats for perceived cheating.

Yes, that’s right, there’s more to sports than winning and we all know it.

When I think back on playing sports as a kid, I rarely think about whatever games we won or lost, I think about having fun with my friends and all that other corny shit. All this controversy with participation trophies is just more micro-managing bullshit adults fuss over their kids. Even worse, it’s sad pathetic people who feel the need to self-mythologize by putting down the younger generation.

I bet way back in the day, cavemen were standing around like “Ugh this younger generation is so entitled. When we were kids we didn’t have fire or the wheel. All we had were sharp sticks and that’s the way we liked it!”

Cheers,

-b

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~ by braddunne on August 6, 2017.

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