Kids deserve participation awards

To the Editor:

My name is Allie Wood, and I am a seventh grader at Hollis Brookline Middle School. I love to be outside, but I especially love to play sports. When I was younger, I was rewarded with medals of participation when I would play soccer, and to me, I thought of these awards as tokens of achievement – I was proud of what I had accomplished, and wanted to accomplish more. Today, as I look back on those memories, I worry that kids in this generation will not be rewarded with anything, and become discouraged. Not because they did not receive a medal, but because they do not feel like they are “good enough.” Kids should receive participation awards in youth sports.

So, why should kids receive participation awards?

Well, Whit Honea, who splits his time as an author, father, and coach, says that the concept of participation awards is to recognize the effort and time a child puts into whatever they are doing, not to act as if everybody was a winner. To me, while children are still young, they should be able to have fun, not just focus on competing for an award – it should be given to them no matter what. For example, David Petti, an 8-year-old from Oakland claims that it was “exciting” to receive an award after his first ever soccer season. Is it really fair if we take that excitement away? Steve Miller, who works as a kinesiology professor at Saint Mary’s College, states that “‘For some kids that participation trophy or ribbon might just be something that helps them reflect back on a good experience.'” Why is it such a big deal that we celebrate children’s effort?

It is commonly mistaken that participation awards convince children that they don’t have to work as hard. As a kindergartener, I never thought of this medal as if I had “won” and did not have to work as hard anymore – that just does not make sense! The bottom line is, kids should receive participation awards, because it encourages them to do with what they love, and not to be discouraged because they do not feel like they are “qualified” to be on their team.

Overall, I ask that you please consider handing out participation awards if a team you know of does not already. I understand there are many viewpoints on this topic, and I respect your opinion greatly, so if you still believe kids should not receive an award, be sure that they know they are still talented and amazing at what they do. Kids should feel confident about themselves, not unsure of their abilities.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Allie Wood