Fashion and Fun after Fifty

Posts Tagged ‘participation trophy controversy’

You have to fail in order to succeed and Participation Trophy Givebacks

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You have to fail in order to succeed!

Last Saturday while teaching my Blogging 202 class, one of the comments I reiterated was, ”you have to fail”. I was making this statement about the younger generation and why we have failed them by not allowing them to fail.

We have two sons, the oldest is intellectually disabled so for him a lot of life’s lessons were difficult to comprehend. I remember times when as a toddler he would be on the playground with the other kids, “parallel playing”. You know from a distance it appears as though a kid is playing with others but upon closer inspection you see they aren’t, just jumping around and talking to themselves.



Perhaps he didn’t understand the rules of the game or maybe the other kids simply didn’t want to play with him. As a parent, this was hard to watch, but my husband and I couldn’t force the other kids to play with him. He either had to learn the game or be a bystander.

This definitely set the foundation for him later in life when he was cut from the Appo HS football team, even though he attended all the practices for the entire summer and the coach gave him a helmet and a jersey only to take it from him before the beginning of the season…yes, I am still a bit perturbed by this if you haven’t noticed!  


Anywho I too remember not being chosen for a team or getting picked last because I wasn’t fast enough, so like our son, I would either go off to do my own thing or just stand there and watch.

As both our sons got older we signed them up for the local T-Ball and Soccer teams.  The cost of participation included a certificate and trophy presented to them at the end of the season and it didn’t matter whether they won or not.  I always thought it was a stupid idea because how would the kids learn that they needed to try harder if they were all being rewarded for just participating?

participation trophy

How would they learn that not everything is going to be given to them for little to no effort – how would they learn to deal with disappointment and failure?  Unfortunately, a lot of kids today haven’t learned that lesson and we can see how well that worked out just by reading a few newspaper headlines!

“It’s a Different World”

So when I heard the report about James Harrison, of the Pittsburgh Steelers wanting to give back the “participation trophies” that his kids brought home, I said, “finally!”

participation trophy return

Of course there are controversies on both sides, but as a parent who wants to raise his kids with the understanding that not everything is going to be handed to them as a just because, and that sometimes you have to fail in order to succeed, I think he did the right thing. You know me, I am all about teaching my sons the realities of life, the good the bad and the ugly #ihatecancer

Now let me go see if I can find a few of those “participation trophies” collecting dust in the basement, maybe my sons might even remember getting them!

Chime in, what is your take on kids needing to fail in order to work harder for success?