Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Participation Trophies - And why James Harrison shouldn't get one

Alright, I’m sure by now you’ve heard of the James Harrison Instagram-rejecting his sons’ participation trophies.  I read the USA Today article of the ordeal and in a nutshell, he returned his sons’ participation trophies because they “did not earn them” (if they participated, they did earn them) and he is not raising boys into men with a sense of entitlement just because they tried their best (remember, his boys are 6 and 8 years old).  This struck a nerve with me like a dental drill the size of Harrison tackling a cavity....

First and foremost, my perspective of James Harrison’s perspective is on an opposite pole.  I’m a Cardinal and Harrison is rumbling toward the endzone - But on this topic I’m going head on with an earthquake on wheels.  The mindset of participation trophies as self entitlement seems to be of an olden mindset.

When I hear of perspectives such as James Harrison’s with Kurt Warner’s backing, I think, these guys are accomplished, what made them want to “try” in the first place?  Maybe their participation trophies were made into a bonfire for an evening of s’mores with dark chocolate - call that a bitter-sweet ending.  I’m sure they got participation trophies when they were young and it was probably taken as, “Hey, you did your best, you completed the program and DIDN’T quit!”  That is a win, a confidence booster, not self entitlement.  We are to be a confidence mirror to our children, not Cinderella Stepmothers!

Now, I have a 6 year old son, I reward him for trying, trying to completion, trying to his best ability. If he tries and learns something more about the task or himself, then that is a win, he is a hero in my book.  I teach him the value of trying new things, and with that, experience is acquired.  With that trying comes small rewards, confidence, smiles, and a sense of accomplishment.  Yes, we all know, with trying disappointment may come, but at such an early age, we should encourage participation.  Plain and simple, a lot of humans on this Earth do not participate in life.

I admit, I may have gotten deep on subject matter for a 6 year old, but I told him like it is - the world is plentiful of “do nothings”, “wishful hopefuls”, “wanting to do better, but won’t take time to make it better”, “wannabes” and “if onlys”.  Trying is a big deal in an age where people stop “trying” with things like eating habits and exercise and then become obese.  I, myself, TRY my hand at a lot of things, as you can tell by my site.  I know trying will get me further than quitting.

I do appreciate the undertone of Harrison’s perspective of hard work but I feel returning the participation trophies, may have been a much “hard-ass” for a 6 and 8 year old.  Shave your head, put it on your face and become a defensive end, then take away participation trophies - sounds like a twisted version of “How the Grinch sacked participation trophies.”  

Here’s a great article that speaks on the matter of 12 ways to raise a confident child.  

Inversely, I understand undercutting a child’s confidence development by telling them they are good at everything, but here with participation trophies, it’s saying, “Hey you TRIED, It wasn’t enough to place, but thank you for trying.”  Funny, that I am writing this, as my competitive nature always tells me, “Trying is not good ENOUGH!”  But you know what, “trying” is a starting point and we all want our kids to start and rev like NASCAR engines in Daytona.

Moral of the story:  You’ll never make it to first place if you never try in the first place!

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