Trophies For Participation Make Sense Until They Don’t

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James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers created quite a social media stir on Instagram over the weekend by posting about some participation awards that his children “earned.”

Harrison posted a photo of the trophies with the following text:

I came home to find out that my boys received two trophies for nothing, participation trophies! While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them till the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy. I’m sorry I’m not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned and I’m not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best…cause sometimes your best is not enough, and that should drive you to want to do better…not cry and whine until somebody gives you something to shut u up and keep you happy.

Like most things, this reminds me of a story.

My father, having moved to South Carolina for his retirement, thought that he would like to re-enact the horror joy of coaching me as a thirteen-year-old baseball star by coaching a team of similarly aged children in his new town. So he and one of his best friends and neighbors (both of them approaching seventy) decided that they’d coach a team of 13-14 year old boys.

Only one problem. The team sucked. The kids didn’t try hard. They didn’t listen. They showed up late for practice—if they showed up at all. I don’t think they won a single game during the season.

So, the league gave my dad some participation trophies to distribute to the kids. My understanding is that it went something like this:

Listen. I’m gonna tell you something that none of your parents are ever going to tell you. None of you are any good. And it’s not because you couldn’t be someday. It’s because you’re all spoiled. None of you want to work. None of you want to get better. You think that you’re going to make the high school team playing like that? Not a chance.

So I’ve got a box of trophies here. I’m throwing them out. You don’t deserve them.

And thus ended the season.

If I were in his shoes, I likely would have done exactly the same thing. Those kids were middle schoolers. They should have known better. At that age, if you don’t win, you don’t deserve a trophy.

But there’s another side to the tale, one that isn’t being told much in this rush to agree with Harrison.

What about the four-year-old girl? My daughter is playing soccer for the first time this season. They don’t keep score. They don’t have a tournament. Shouldn’t she still get something? Some sort of extrinsic motivation for her to come back and play another season?

My son was beyond overjoyed to get a “Most Improved” certificate when he was five years old. No, he didn’t earn that. But it was enough to encourage him to keep playing after a season when he was the only five-year-old on a team full of six-year-olds. He didn’t even score a single goal that year. A lot of kids might have quit. That certificate that his coach made—probably as an afterthought—has him playing U9 Club Soccer as a seven-year-old now, and loving every minute of it.

And you know something? This past Spring, he “earned” his first trophy. He was unbelievable as the primary goalkeeper for his team—he didn’t allow a single goal during the tournament. Unfortunately, they had to rotate goalies according to league rules, and some other kids didn’t fare as well. Nevertheless, thanks in large part to his stellar play, his team finished as runners-up in the league tournament.

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You can see it in his face, can’t you? The disappointment of not winning. Yes, he’s holding a trophy, but it’s not the trophy he wanted. He wanted the champion’s trophy.

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But I remember exactly what I was telling him in this photo. I said, “It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to be upset. But this is the first trophy that you’ve ever earned. And that means something. Be proud. You did a great job, buddy.”

Those other participation trophies he got didn’t diminish the value of this one at all—rather, they increased it. He now looks at those other trophies as, “Eh, those were okay when I was younger. But now I want to WIN.”

What’s the cutoff? Is a participation trophy okay when you’re six, but not when you’re seven? I honestly don’t know. But I think that somewhere, lost in all of the hullabaloo is the meaning of what a participation trophy actually is—we want to encourage young people to participate, don’t we? Aren’t we always complaining about “fat, lazy kids” who sit around and play xBox all day?

If we want kids to go out and participate in life, maybe they should be rewarded more than the kids who just don’t. After all, much more than half of success in life is just showing up on time.

Anybody who takes a hard and fast line on this is probably somebody who never won a thing in his whole life. As somebody who has won championships in literally every sport I’ve ever played, my feelings aren’t hurt by a participation trophy for a child. Yours probably shouldn’t be either.

 

35 Replies to “Trophies For Participation Make Sense Until They Don’t”

  1. Phil O.

    I have a similar story…but different. I had three boys and all of them played Pee Wee football in the Fayette County parks league at Shillito Park. They each began playing when they turned 8 years old, and played until they were booted out due to age, but came back and played in the 13 to 16 year old group…can’t recall what that league was called. These guys, during their respective tenure playing in Pee Wee, could not wait to get to practice at least 3 times per week. Of course they thrived on praise from the coaches, and quite often fretted over the coach’s yelling at them when they screwed up. But, as each child began to learn, they worked harder to please the coaches, and took a certain amount of pride in themselves when they excelled during a particular play. They all played for different teams, and at one time two of them were in Pee Wee at the same time. Their teams were not that good, and most of them were relatively small in stature, but they persevered and played their best. Yep, they made mistakes, but took their lumps, along with the coaches ire…There were no “participant” trophies at that time, but there was that bonding among the players, and after a losing first season, in both instances, they were adamant as a team to come back and kick butt the next year. They realized if they wanted to take home a trophy, they had to earn it, and by golly, they were determined. The second year they improved their respective team records, but most kids take a growth spurt between 8 and 10 years old, and they did, as did the team. Their second season was better, but still not a winning schedule. The oldest did indeed take home a trophy for his individual efforts to the team. From that time until they had to go to the older boys teams, they each won trophies for their efforts on the field. They cherished those trophies right into Jr. High, where each excelled and were honored for their play. The oldest found music and decided not to play foot ball but concentrate on music, but the second oldest, only 20 months younger, and a bit bigger in stature went on to be an excellent player at Lafayette HS. The younger son was nearly nine years younger than his older siblings, but he too excelled throughout pee wee, Jr. High, and was a first string starter for Dunbar. My point is, the lack of participation trophies did not lessen their enthusiasm to play football, rather it gave them incentive to better themselves and to attain a greater degree of self improvement…The lack of participation trophies had nothing to do with their desire to play. Of course, kids these days have so many other items to occupy their time, and perhaps they indeed deserve participation trophies to keep them interested in contact sports, rather than sitting in the bleachers playing video games on their iPhones…

    Reply
  2. jz78817

    y’know, this reminded me that this isn’t really all that new. When I was six (which would have been 1982-1983) I was in a kid’s bowling league. I was never really any good but apart from the top three scorers getting larger 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place trophies, we all got a small “trophy” (basically a five inch high, “gold” plated plastic cup on a fake marble base) if we participated the whole season. I never really got any better at it and eventually lost interest a couple of years later.

    if someone has a competitive drive, they’ll want to win whether or not they get a “participation” trophy. If they’re “meh” about the whole thing, I doubt one would keep them interested.

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  3. Chris Tonn

    Preach, brother Bark.

    I look at it much the same. My girls get participation trophies/medals for the rec leagues, as they are leagues that take all kids.

    My oldest finished her first year of competitive soccer in June (U9 as well), and there were no medals or trophies. The team was miserable, sadly, with a first-year coach and kids that never meshed as a team. They never won a game this spring. Tryouts for this season were shortly following the last tourney, and many of the girls (including mine) didn’t make the cut.

    So..what does my girl do? Without prompting, she decides to go back to rec soccer, and will play rec volleyball at the same time, in an effort to improve in both. And she made the selective softball team in her first year of eligibility, too, so she will be working on that for the entire year.

    I might need to get her a phone and an Uber account to get her to/from everything.

    She took defeat and the cut hard. Thankfully, she bounced back with vengeance.

    At these young ages, the trophies and encouragement are all we can give. They need to learn to love the sport before they gain the desire to truly win.

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  4. Disinterested-Observer

    Everybody is different so it is difficult to say. As the folks above me pointed out in their anecdotes, participation trophies have helped, hurt, and done nothing. In some cases even within the same family. That being said, although I am generally not in favor of bland, I think this can be summed up as follows: there are only 3 things that can happen when you throw a pass, and two of them are bad. No, that wasn’t it. Some kids will be indifferent, but some will be happy and hungry, and some will be angry and hungry. As the Boss says, you gotta stay hungry.

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  5. MrFixit1599

    When I was in little league, the “President” decided that they would only give out 1st place trophies after the tournament was over. His son was on the best team. I was on the 2nd best team. Well my mother was having none of that and gathered her posse of other mom’s to make sure the 2nd place team also got a trophy as it had been for years. In the end my team ended up winning it all. I have always wondered what would have happened if my mother had not gotten involved, it was only 1st place that got a trophy, and the presidents son would not have gotten one for finishing 2nd.

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  6. Jack BaruthJack Baruth

    I’ll say this: it took me nearly a year to win my first BMX race. I finished six and seventh out of eight a lot in that first year. So when I won, I really valued it.

    Same was true for club racing — I raced the Neon all year in 2008 and didn’t take a win until midway through the season. That one was big.

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  7. Ronnie Schreiber

    Participation trophies? Don’t get me started. I don’t even like T-ball. One of the things that makes baseball a great game is that it’s very hard to play well. Failure is everpresent and the only way you get better is by admitting that you need to get better.

    Reply
    • atonge40

      I refuse to let my daughter play T-ball or soccer before the age of 5 or 6. For me, it is a waste of money and many Saturdays. She can play catch, soccer, or basketball with me in the backyard, or we can use that Saturday to go somewhere and do something. Other people may enjoy it, but it’s not for me.

      (I don’t group swimming in with other sports as it is an important skill for life. I won’t waste a summer Saturday at the high school pool though. That’s for the depths of winter.)

      Reply
  8. Mopar4wd

    I’m not sure it really matters if you keep giving them to kids. They get used to getting them and they know by the time they are 10 or so that their meaningless so it really dosen’t matter either way. I got them when I was a kid in the 80’s I believe it started in the 70’s I do agree with Bark that at the beginning being handed anything does gives some kind of encouragement at a young age. But lets be realistic handing them out later does not effect the kind of person they will grow up to be later in any meaningful kind of way. There will always be kids that are competitive and those that are not a $5 piece of plastic matters not.

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  9. VolandoBajo

    One of your best pieces, IMNERHO, Bark.

    Two anecdotes for you and the readership, which I think of the Best of the B&B, in one sense.

    I have three brother-in-laws, one a doctor divorced from another doctor. They have two children, a niece and nephew, who are within a year or two of my son’s age, twenty one now.

    Both of the kids’ parents were all about equality, not hurting anyone’s feelings, etc. When they were young, my niece and nephew both played in a non-scoring soccer league. Goals might take place, but the score was not officially kept. And the upshot of it all was that both of the other brothers-in-law, and the niece and nephew, all said that every kid on both teams knew EXACTLY what the score was anyway. They were pre-teen or early teen at the time.

    Fast forward. The niece is an excellent musician, and is going for the difficult brass ring in Musicology, as documented by your brother. The nephew is a competitive cross-country runner on the college team at Carnegie Mellon. Both have a strong competitive streak, in spite of how New Age laidback, let’s ALL feel good about what we did mentality they grew up with.

    Anecdote number two: my son played Pop Warner football for three years, until four mild concussions (two from league play, one from falling backwards playing soft tackle with no pads, and one stunting on his Mongoose bicyle), all incurred in the space of three months, caused a pediatric neurologist to say that though none were serious, there was new evidence that repeated mild concussions could lead to increased problems later on, especially if another concussion were to occur.

    I thought my son would be hurt at being told it was almost mandatory that he quit, which news I tried to break gently with good reasons given in advance.

    His reply: “I could see it coming, talking with the doctors. I enjoyed playing because I knew you liked it, and because it toughened me up. But I’d rather play basketball instead.”

    I had only seen him play basketball a few times during the few years he played football, but he was “woodshedding” with his friends whenever he was out and around the neighborhood in the afternoon.

    Became a fairly good player, with a lot of court sense, just as he had field sense in football. One time he came over to me, at about age nine, during a break, and said “Dad, defense is easy. It’s just like reading a book. I mean, there aren’t words and letters, but you can see where things are going before they happen.”

    I told him that not everyone had that gift, but it was a gift and talent that would serve him well in life.

    He once played in a rec league where the coach and his son were so indifferent that they didn’t show up the Sunday morning of the game that decided the championship. The other team was bigger, and supposedly better. But my son and his three friends who showed elected to play and not forfeit.

    The other team didn’t offer to play four on four, nor did they limit substitutions. Yet the game remained close and the lead kept seesawing back and forth. It was only at the end, when the four boys were drained from defending five fresh players all game, couldn’t quite stop the game-winning shot, nor get one more to fall for them.

    I told my son after that I was very proud of him for his courage and hard work, and that usually the phrase “moral victory” was a fancy way of saying “sour grapes”, but in that case, it clearly was a victory of sorts, to keep the other team in fear of losing the entire game.

    My son’s last year in football, their last game would be the championship game, in a very competitive league in South Jersey. Jersey sports have always turned out a lot of good athletes, like a few other places, Their coach had his son as QB, and the kid for once deserved it. The coach had also made it as far as being drafted by the Forty-Niners, but got a knee injury in camp that ended his career.

    But the night before the game (dammit!) the father of the running back / defensive nose tackle threw a party for the kids and the parents, in part to show off his newly finished basement bar. And he still had lots of construction materials laying around the yard. Guess who put a nail in his foot…yep, the guy’s son. Out of the championship game.

    And the kids and the parents were a bit flat the next day, since at least half of the parents were there with a hangover. Even so, our team battled the team that had won the championship the last three years in a row.

    In the final two minutes of the game, the other team scored a TD to go up by about two or three points, something like 24-20. Then our guys, with the coach’s kid doing a great job of QB-ing, came all the way down the field, and got inside the ten. I remember they needed a TD, an FG wouldn’t do the job.

    They went about seventy yards in just over a minute, but couldn’t punch the ball in before the clock ran out. Also, with the running back out, it was their lowest scoring game of the season.

    My son stepped up on defense, at 80 lbs in a 90lb league, to play nose tackle, pulling off “swim moves” like a pro, and keeping pressure on the other QB the whole game, to the extent (of course with the rest of his team as well) they held the opposing team to its lowest score of the season as well.

    To this day I am po’d at the dad who threw the big “victory” party BEFORE the final game.

    I think participation trophies are nice for when kids are still essentially emotionally sensitive “babies”, perhaps up to ten or twelve, but once they are teenagers, it is time to learn that you have to get it done to win.

    Kids don’t need participation trophies, but I can see where it helps to fuel a competitive drive to win a true trophy later. But by middle school years, if you are sending them the message that showing up is good enough, regardless of how well you did, you are doing them a great disservice.

    Reply
    • VolandoBajo

      A PS If you think ANY league is truely scoreless, it may be true for the parents, but I believe it is only true for the children if they aren’t old enough yet to count to ten and add. Otherwise, every kid on the field, in any sport, will know EXACTLY what the true score is at any moment.

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  10. Orenwolf

    Great piece.

    Completely agree when “winning” isn’t the motivation, then whatever the primary motivation was (participating? Being present for every game? etc) should garner a reward. I’ve never thought of it this way before, but it is exactly correct in retrospect.

    Thanks for sparking the thought. 🙂

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  11. -Nate-Nate

    Thank you all for your detailed thoughts .

    I was put off Sports at a very young age and I think they’re very important to teach youth important life lessons on multiple levels .

    I too am not impressed by ‘ everyone’s a winner ! ‘ B.S. ~ life is neither fair nor equal so by age 10 you’d best have taught your Children this if you expect them to be happy and productive Adults .

    I now have to play catch up with Teenaged Foster Boys who’ve never been taught to work for what you want , it’s a hard road but i don’t want any of them to be the worthless kids you see everywhere these days .

    They often tell me ‘ you’re the only adult who ever talks to me this way ‘ .

    -Nate

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  12. Pseudoperson Randomian

    You know, it’s not about the participation trophy or something like that. It’s the message that goes along with it. Both playing and winning are important. Scoreless games are stupid. And the top players should get big huge trophies, which progressively get smaller. The trick is to show kids that big one and then make it painfully obvious that they have to make do with the smaller one when they don’t achieve the big one.

    Will feelings be hurt? Yes, of course. But THAT is the whole point. The point is to aspire and try, to fail and to know how to deal with it.

    Life is, in general, best played by being there and trying, then building on success or learning from failure or even just knowing when to put more into the game you’re playing and when to play a different game.

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  13. atonge40

    Just like anything else with kids, this goes back to parenting. Like Bark, you should know your kids and what’s acceptable when. If a participation trophy is important to them and they gave effort, it’s a perfectly acceptable token. They’ll eventually know the difference between winning and losing.

    We also should remember that most adults get participation trophies in the form of paychecks. How many people do you work with that are truly great at their job? Jim from accounting isn’t elite, so why does he have so much higher expectations of his kids?

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    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth

      “We also should remember that most adults get participation trophies in the form of paychecks. How many people do you work with that are truly great at their job? Jim from accounting isn’t elite, so why does he have so much higher expectations of his kids?”

      Brilliant point. But… most jobs are work-to-standard gigs, not winner-takes-all gigs. Examples of jobs where you win or lose: recording artist, bond trader, salesman, surgeon. In all of those cases, compensation varies heavily based on that “win”.

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      • atonge40

        Fair. At most jobs, as long as the standard is met, employment continues. Now that I have a kid, and interact with other parents, I see parents expect so much of their kids, so soon. And some of these people don’t even expect that much of themselves. I can understand wanting better for your kids. However, as a parent, just like as a boss, you need to hold yourself accountable before you can them.

        You wrote an article a few weeks (months?) ago about having the luxury of time as a kid. Having a similar Midwestern upbringing, that resonates with me. I want to give my daughter time and happy memories, not a structured path to possible youth sports success. Talent rises to the top regardless of when it starts playing sports. I’d rather give her the gift of time until she wants to participate in athletics.

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        • atonge40

          I’d also say that trophies at work to standard jobs include promotions, recognition, and sometimes bonuses. Any sales job will have a “win” component too.

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        • Pseudoperson Randomian

          “Talent rises to the top regardless of when you start”

          I have to disagree. It often doesn’t because if lack of opportunity or social pressures

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          • atonge40

            Social pressures and lack of opportunity do come into play, but there are people all over the place looking for talent. You can’t teach certain characteristics that athletes need to be successful.

            I didn’t play football until my senior year of high school, but I ended up starting at a school that had an enrollment of over 2400 kids at the time, and won conference and district championships. Why did this happen? Because in high school, I was 6’5″, 235 lbs, could catch a football, and was able to understand the playbook quickly.

            My best friend didn’t play organized basketball until the 8th grade and he ended up playing professional basketball in Europe. Being seven feet tall, coordinated, and having a good work ethic cannot be taught.

            If you are 6’3″+ male that has some athletic ability, eye hand coordination, muscle mass, can listen to instruction, and attend a high school with sports programs in America, SOMEONE will find you.

            If I wait to put my daughter in sports until she tells me she wants to participate, or wait until middle school, there will be no difference than if I started her in organized sports at 3 or 4.

            (Note: this does not apply to baseball. Baseball is hard as heck to learn and master.)

          • Bark M Post author

            There’s some truth to this. I didn’t play football until high school, but I was a starter by my senior year on an Ohio state champion team.

            However, that was then, and this is now. Coaching and training at the younger ages is far superior to what we had growing up. I didn’t touch a weight until I was 15. I left my cardio workouts every day and went to Pizza Hut with my friends for the unlimited buffet.

            The science of sports has advanced, and kids are getting started younger than ever, and specializing sooner than ever. One can debate the merit of this idea, but you can’t debate the reality of it. By the time some other kid who wants to play soccer when he turns ten comes along, my son will have been playing for six years, and he will have been a select-level goalkeeper for three. Hard to catch up.

          • atonge40

            Goalkeeper, much like catcher in baseball, is a tough position just to walk into. If you would have said striker or another soccer position, I would have disagreed, but I can’t with goalkeeper. I played goalkeeper in high school until my senior year. We had three goalkeepers that had been playing that position for a combined 35 years or something.

            I’m assuming the kid that is just walking into whatever sport is physically fit and has played other sports. Soccer teams at major high schools and colleges would kill to get a football or basketball player on their team. That’s where the elite athletes are.

            As far as my daughter playing sports, I’m trying to hold off until kindergarten or 1st grade. I’ll buy that if I waited until 7th grade she would have to worry about catching up, but at 5 or 6, there will be little catch up to kids that have been playing a couple years.

            Also, I hate specialization in sports at such a young age!

          • AoLetsGo

            100% agree on the HS football comment. I have always said what a waste most of pee wee football is and how some big, athletic, strong, aggressive kid could come from another country and be a starter on a HS team. You could say a similar thing about running sports. On the other hand, no way for tennis, soccer, baseball, and other strategy/hand-eye coordination sports you got to start them out young if they are going to play in a competitive HS program.

  14. AoLetsGo

    Nice article and some insightful comments. I agree that participation trophies have their place with the young ones and also later on at the team banquet where they hand out the certificates for hardest worker, best attitude, funniest kid, loudest sideline cheerleader, whatever. I also liked your picture with lil’ Bark – good job going to one knee to be at eye level and the supporting hand on the back.

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  15. Nick D

    Great post, and as the father of a 4 and 2 year old, relevant.

    I was lucky enough to be coached in High School Cross Country by 2 World War II vets in their late 70s at the time. Both had Purple Hearts and additional medals, including a silver star. You had to earn respect from them, but it was freely given based on effort, not natural talent. This was good for me, as I would have made a far better wrestler than runner (and they frequently reminded me of that). Wrestling, however, conflicted with competitive speech and debate. I competed nationally in debate, but could never be a nationally competitive runner.

    As a famous coach once said, “you can’t teach 6′ 10”, and they couldn’t teach me to be a tall lanky runner on a team full of them. My high school – where no one race had a majority – had an amazing number of talented athletes and I just wasn’t one of them.

    Once, one got in trouble for yelling at a female member of the team there for social and weight-loss purposes. She turned in a 5k time during a race substantially slower than a 75 year old man with a bum leg from a German artillery shell walked the same distance.

    Even though I was, at best, a solidly average member of the team, 4 years under their coaching taught me effort and perseverance are the true measure of a man and to keep going even when your best falls below someone else’s – far more valuable lessons than anything taught in the classroom.

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    • jz78817

      “Once, one got in trouble for yelling at a female member of the team there for social and weight-loss purposes.”

      because that works so well.

      Reply
  16. SexCpotatoes

    The losing Superbowl team all still get rings. So… there’s your participation trophy. It would be different if both teams got AFC/NFC or whatever rings and then the superbowl winners then got another ring. But as far as I know, that’s not how it works.

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  17. Pey-droh

    My dad played basketball, softball and did pole vault when he was young. He played golf as an adult. As his only son, he was determined that I was going to excel at sports too – especially when he discovered that I was ambidextrous.

    I hated sports! I couldn’t dribble a basketball without looking at it, my swing in softball sucked and golf…..well……I got so frustrated on a driving range as an adult one time that I threw my clubs in the trunk of the car, went back to my hotel room and sat in the dark for 30 minutes trying to calm my ass down. I had a killer serve in volleyball………..but that really didn’t light Dad’s fire too much.

    When I was a little kid, my dad used to drag me outside to play catch. If I didn’t catch the ball right or throw it back to him right, he’d just throw it at me harder. It was easier to step out of the damn way of the ball, then slowly walk down the street to retrieve it. Basketball practice consisted of him yelling at me to do shots, particularly layups (right AND left since I’m ambidextrous), etc. Thankfully my lesbian sister came up a few years after me and she fulfilled all of dad’s desires for a jock in the family. I was let off the hook.

    Some of you may be wondering “well, what DID you like to do?”

    I liked cars…no, I LOVE cars. Sadly, Dad looked at cars as a necessity. He drove 40,000 miles a year in his sales job. He needed a four door sedan with a big trunk, a smooth and powerful engine and lots of comfort amenities. We got a new one every 18 months. The only thing he used the car for on the weekend was to drive to the country club or to go out to dinner.

    In addition to loving cars, I liked making money. I was paid to take care of people’s yards and pets while they were out of town. I got a paper route at age 10. I was washing cars at age 8 – probably crappily – but no worse than the mechanical car wash. At 16 years old I got my drivers license. I had quite the car detailing business going in our neighborhood by then. I asked my customers if I could take their cars out for a spin around the block to blow out that water out that got caught in the vinyl top trim, in the side view mirrors, etc. It drove me nuts that their perfectly clean car had water dribbling out of all the crevices the first time they drove it. My clients all said “sure” because I was a nice young man, ambitious and trustworthy.

    So at 16 years old I was detailing and driving four Rolls Royces, a ’63 MBZ 300SE cabriolet, a ’71 MBZ 280SE 3.5 cabriolet, a ’63 and a ’65 TBird, Cadillacs, Lincolns, other Mercedes, a late 60’s XKE Series II coupe, a pristine ’68 Cougar and more. I was detailing a 32′ Sea Ray boat twice a week down in the harbor (never piloted the boat though).

    I didn’t need no stinkin’ trophy for participation, 1st Place, 2nd Place, etc. I had money in the bank which was trophy enough for me. And THAT is what my father and I finally bonded over after college when I went to work for him. My interest in business and making money was our common thread.

    Fathers – take note. Don’t force your kids to do what YOU want them to do. Explore with them what interests them and then try to learn more about it so you can share it with them. I would have given anything for my Dad to help me work on my first car – or even go to the LA Auto Show every year. He always kept up with my sister’s basketball, softball, field hockey and golfing activities. But he never even thought to ask about the awards I won as the front page editor of the high school newspaper or my role in the senior class play. He had pinned his hopes on my sister instead.

    Reply
    • atonge40

      Thank you for sharing, and this is wonderful advice. Sure, having had the opportunity to participate in college athletics, I’d love me daughter to play sports. However, that isn’t up to me. At this point, I’m way more likely to dress up like a princess than go play catch. That’s not such a bad thing because I get to spend quality time with my daughter.

      Reply
  18. Max perrella

    I don’t remember if it was freakonomics or some behavioral economics pop sci book, but I took to heart that the way to get someone to do better next time is to praise what you wish they had done. All those coaches yelling “good effort” at whatever half assed thing they had just witnessed sudenly made sense.

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