As a life long fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, I don’t like the Pittsburgh Steelers very much. They are rivals to the Bengals, so I automatically dislike them!
A few weeks ago a player from the Steelers did something unusual that got my attention.
The player, James Harrison asked his sons to return trophies they received for participation. He explained that trophies should be earned for winning something.
His philosophy was simple “you don’t get a trophy for just participating”.
I hate to say this, but I agree with a Pittsburgh Steeler.
A trophy means so much more when you earn it.
Competition is a part of life and in every part of life there are winners and losers.
I remember that special day when my daughter won first place in an Irish Dance competition. Her smile was a mile wide. She danced better than twenty two other competitors. My wife and I beamed with joy as we saw all of her hard work pay off.
She competed in many Irish Dance events and won some second and third place medals.
She also won medals and ribbons for placing in the top five in other competitions. In those events, she learned that you can’t win every time. She learned more from those times.
The losses and near misses made her work harder and fine tune her dancing skills. Because of it, she became a better and better dancer.
At each competition she was nervous because there was pressure to perform well, yet she always seemed to enjoy the opportunity to compete.
What she liked most, was the preparation, the time with her team mates and meeting girls from other dance schools. She loved it when she won a medal, but she seemed to like the chance to be a part of an Irish dance event just as much.
The medals became a great reward for her hard work, but they did not define her. How she handled defeat is what defined my daughter
She was as gracious to other competitors when she lost as she was when she won. She learned to support others from her Irish dance school when the competitions took
place and she learned that dance life is full of ups and downs, just like regular life. The lessons she learned while competing carried far more value than any
participation trophy ever would have.
I remember the same thing from my days in Little League baseball.
The first team I played for won every single game. We were champs and we each got a trophy! It was fun and we earned those trophies for being the best that year.
The next year my team was not as good and we took some lumps and losses.
That year, I learned more about baseball and life from defeats.
I didn’t get a trophy that year, but I had just as much fun. I appreciated my trophy from the year before even more after learning you can’t always be the winner.
I didn’t want or need a trophy just for competing. I liked the uniforms, the hats, my teammates, the competition and of course, the Slushees after each game!
Getting a trophy for just showing up doesn’t teach you about winning or losing. It just teaches you to show up.
When kids are given a trophy for participation, the only real winner is the company that makes and sells the trophies.