The Trophy Debate -- Give kids some credit

By Mike Woitalla

I'm not a big fan of trophies. They tend to be gaudy and overpriced. At the same time, I find it amusing when people get all riled up about kids nowadays getting trophies they don't deserve. As if that's really a major problem.

Many times I’ve heard the diatribes about how when we were children we had to win to get a reward and now they give them to everyone. They call them “participation trophies” and the issue became big news recently when NFL linebacker James Harrison boasted on Instagram that he took away from his 6- and 8-year-old sons their participation trophies.

“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,” wrote Harrison.

Harrison was widely hailed. There is an irony in considering parenting advice from someone who was arrested for assault and admitted to slapping his son’s mother in the face, and whose pitbull sent his boy to the hospital for three days. Regardless, the participation trophy issue is much ado about nothing -- because children are much smarter than they’re given credit by those who think a piece of plastic will make them soft and unambitious for the rest of their lives.

Kids keep score. They understand the difference between a participation trophy and a winner’s medal.

I certainly don’t think there’s anything wrong with giving young children a memento at the end of the season, regardless of the win-loss record. Better than a trophy, I’ve always thought, is a team picture or a photo collage from the season. That’s something they’re more likely to cherish years down the road than a trophy.

U.S. U-17 boys fall to Russia and Slovenia

The U.S. U-17 boys national team opened the Vaclav Jezek Tournament in the Czech Republic with a 4-2 loss to fellow 2015 U-17 World Cup qualifier Russia and a penalty-kick shootout loss to Slovenia after a 1-1 tie.

Alexandr Lomovitskiy scored a hat trick for the Russians against the USA, which got its goals from Joshua Perez and Hugo Arrellano.

Against Slovenia, Alex Zendejas opened the scoring by heading home a Haji Wright. The USA gave up the equalizer with five minutes left.

The Americans face Slovakia in their final group game on Friday and finish up with a placement game on Saturday.

Aug. 19, 2015 in Svitavy, Czech Republic.
USA 1, Slovenia 1. (Slovenia wins, 3-1, on OKs) Goals: Zendejas (Wright) 17; Mlakar 85.
USA -- Kevin Silva; Nelson (Arellano, 46), Trusty, Dieterich, Cannon; McCabe, Calvillo, Pulisic (de la Torre, 46); Wright, Gallardo (Perez, 62), Zendejas.
Slovenia -- Vodisek; Coralic, Sostaric-Karic, Pisek, Rom; Ogrinec (Pusnik, 67), Buzinel, Petrovic (Kambic, 81); Sredojevic (Ficko, 53), Mlakar, Petric (Stor, 67).

Aug. 18 in Vysoke Myto, Czech Republic.
USA 2 Russia 4. Goals: Perez (pen.) 17, Arellano 27; Lomovitskiy (pen.) 13, Lomovitskiy 63, Lomovitskiy 68, Tsygankov 82.
USA – W.Pulisic; Nelson, Barbir, Arellano, Velela; Adams, de la Torre, C.Pulisic; Da Silva, Vazquez (Gallardo, 73), Perez (Wright, 73).
Russia -- Maksimenko; Garilov, Kalugin, Zakharov, Kotov (Matviichuk, 45); Lomovitskiy, Anisimov, Tsygankov, Pletnev (Denisov, 45); Selyukov (Prudnikov, 32) Kuchaev, 51).

3 comments about "The Trophy Debate -- Give kids some credit ".
  1. Soccer Madness, August 20, 2015 at 11:32 p.m.

    Is this the same team we were all happy that beat Brazil in a Nike friendly 2 years ago?

  2. uffe gustafsson, August 21, 2015 at 12:20 a.m.

    When our kids where younger.
    The coach made paper plates with drawings on them like a stick figure and wrote comments of what each player where really good at and at final team meeting she called each girl up and talked about each girls accomplishment and handed them the plate.
    They loved it, my daughter still have those paper plates in her room. Simple but a great idea and boosted each players confident.
    Way better thing to do than a bought trophy and more personal for each kid.

  3. Kent James, August 21, 2015 at 12:36 a.m.

    I find the idea of a trophy for playing a sport ludicrous. The joy should come from playing the sport, not being rewarded for doing so. On the other hand, I agree with Mike, that most kids will not be psychologically damaged by getting a participation award, so I think making a big deal out of turning them back in is also silly. The crime committed by participation awards is environmental; there's too much cheap junk that goes almost immediately to the landfill as it is. I like the idea of a team picture as a meaningful memento (or if the coach is more creative, the award described by Uffe).

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