Everyone Gets A Trophy?

I have spent a great deal of time talking about coaches and parents that put too much focus on winning at the youth level, that this particular blog is going to sound a little hypocritical. I do think that in sports, just like everything else, there needs to be a proper balance. The idea that everyone is a winner in a competition may be good at the earliest years of organized sports, but there is too much to learn from the losses and the failures, to let kids continue thinking that everyone should get a trophy, even when they come in last place.

The bigger picture is teaching and learning how to properly handle failure. Baseball is such a great instructor on this topic, due to its nature. We all have heard the saying of how even the greatest players in the history of the game have failed 70% of the time at the plate. This is very true, but what separates these players from the others, is not just their infrequency of failing, but how they handle it. They see their short falls, figure out ways to fix them and then jump right back into the fight. In baseball terms, they "make adjustments" more quickly than the other players. This skill set did not come to them without facing many losses and failures first.

I believe that we need to allow our young athletes to fail in order to allow them to develop perseverance, goals setting skills, work ethic, ....in short, CHARACTER. In my personal life as well as my professional life, I have, without a doubt, learned more from the struggles and failures than I ever did from the success. I imagine the same could be said by you. If this is the case, why are we as parents, afraid to let our kids face a little adversity?

The answer is that we need to step aside and let them fail, and be quick to help re-direct their efforts. After they have invested sweat and tears, and the discipline of working hard to achieve something, the trophy that they eventually will EARN, will mean so much more to them. More importantly, the life lessons learned by striving to improve and achieve, will be life skills that they can use the rest of their lives.

Win, lose or draw, tell them that you are proud, buy them some ice cream, and then help them to learn from their losses and failures.

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  • more about just getting to play

    Mike, great blog. As a parent and as a little leager long ago, the biggest problem with youth sports (baseball) is playing time. Parents spend a lot of effort getting to these games and many coaches play THEIR kids most of the game. My kid seldom got to play with any regularity. Its tough to sit out game after game with the coaching staff having thier kids playing most of the game. Rare were the years when a coach came along that didn't play favorites for playing time. Signed, Bitter and sad
  • Everyone gets a trophy

    This is my fourth year of coaching boys baseball. When they were 5, 6 & 7 years old the league concentrated on teaching the boys how to play the game. We did not keep score. No one won or lost. There was no league champion. All my players received a trophy for working hard, learning and participating. It was their reward. The trophy only has their name, our team name and the year. This year we are keeping score and there is a winner and loser after every game. There will be a league champion. My players will not receive a trophy unless we win our league. They knew that at the beginning of the season. Winning is its own reward.
  • Thanks for taking the time to

    Thanks for taking the time to do this blog. Motivated my family to start our own blog about Christianity in sports. It's been a great experience for my boys and I. Thanks.
  • all good except..............

    little league sports need players, and parents to invest in it. unhappy kids= kids that quit Parents whos kids are loser= parents who wont let their kids continue no participation=no money no money=no sports no sports=..........who cares? Say what you want it has nothing to do with character it's all about how to get money from people.
  • I totally agree! How can

    I totally agree! How can kids grow up in the competitive world If they don't understand how to compete, The world has many twists and turns so you better be able to handle life as it comes to you! Kids are not prepared for life if they haven't experienced failure. It's never easy, but, it will happen, and you better know how to move on with dignity.
  • Failures

    I love the above article b/c it's true about life. Your failures are what make you a better person if you let them. The trophy thing drives me nuts! So glad you shared. Big fan. My husband loves your blogs too! Thanks for takings the time in your busy schedule to share!
  • I agree, but . . .

    In general, I agree with what you say here, but I think there are and should be exceptions. One of them you mention, the early years of participation. I think another exception might be in the area of special needs children. Taking part in modified sports allows these children to feel they're just like other kids, even if only for a short time. The trophies they get just for taking part help to make them feel special in a good way. My autistic son received trophies for taking part in a T-ball league for special needs children. He received these trophies eight or nine years ago, and he still has them. He's 17 now. So it's not always bad when "everyone gets a trophy."
  • I could not agree with you

    I could not agree with you more Mike. Failing is a lot like fear. Its not whether it happens or not, its what you do with it that shapes your character & determines success. Courage is not being unafraid--it is being afraid and going forth anyway. Failing from time to time does not make you a Failure. Being a "Failure" is when you fail and don't learn or get back up again. Our kids need to learn these essential life lessons, forestalling that only hurts their growth. Let's not try to stop the rain for our kids, let's teach them to dance in it. I know I am stringing cliches together but these things are cliches b/c they are lasting truths. St. Louis loves you Mike, not just b/c u r a great athlete and mgr but b/c u are such a quality human being. Keep up the tremendous example you set not just in baseball but in life!!
  • Everyone gets a trophy

    Very well said. I spoke to a gentleman not long ago. He's been in baseball for over 40 years and has been extremely successful. He said, the kids haven't changed, the parents have. Parents are setting their children up for failure by telling them, or having an instructor tell them how good they are. These instructors have nothing but the fifty dollars the parents paid, invested in them. So they tell them what they want to hear and not what they need to hear. How do we change it? Will it change?
  • is it the kids

    or is it the parents who want the trophy so they can brag about it .............. I mean look at any game now such as the facebook games it's all about getting meaningless achievements to show your worth............. That's just how americians are..... we have very little we have to work for anymore so we need to make up meaningless goals.
  • 100% agree John. Parents have

    100% agree John. Parents have become so materialistic and showy, they'll do whatever it takes to make themselves look good, which usually means falsifying their kid's successes, at the kids' long-tern expense. I find far too many parents who are making their kids play sports and be successful just so that they, as parents, look good. Parents are more competitive than the athletes many times. And unfortunately it's a political competitiveness, if you will, not a true athletic competitiveness. Drives me crazy. I believe sports are great for kids, but don't make them play just so you look like a good parent. When that happens, you're not being a good parent.
  • Character

    Coach, you eloquently stated my thoughts on the "everyone gets a trophy" generation. Great job. Appreciate all you're doing for Anerica's baseball youth.