Monday, August 17, 2015

James Harrison Says "EARN a Trophy" - And I Agree

Steelers' football player, James Harrison, posted on Instagram that he was sending his sons' sports "participation" trophies back - they get no trophy for just showing up and its sent the internet all a-buzz.  Was he right, was he wrong, is this a great example of fatherly lessons or bad parenting?

James Harrison's Instagram post of sons' sports trophies
Here's my 2 cents: I have to agree - everyone shouldn't get a trophy - aren't these for the winners?  It reminds me of a Tae Kwan Do belt test where my son earned a patch for best kicks in the class and the mother next to me muttered something about "he's the only one? only one kid gets a patch?" Yes, ma'am - it's best in the class, you can't have a bunch of those.  From them on, my son worked hard b/c he wanted to earn that again and knew there was only one to be earned.

Now, he's a swimmer. At the end of the summer season, his team gives out a trophy for the swimmer who has earned the most points in the season. There is only one and everyone knows you have to work hard all summer to earn this trophy.  And it doesn't even matter what age you are - the team ranges from 6 to 18 years old and there is one prize for the boys and one for the girl.  Does this discourage my son or the other kids? No. It gives him a goal, something to aim for.  He knows he cannot slack off or he may fall out of the running for the trophy.  His motivation would be different if he knew they were all going to get the same trophy.  And another thing - it makes each person recognize the contributions and hardwork of their team mates. They cheer for the guy and girl who win this trophy and congratulate them for their efforts during the season.  Being able to say "congratulations" to someone else, having the humility to appreciate someone else's achievements over your own, is as important (maybe more) than patting your own self on the back.

We're letting the kids off too easy by not ever allowing them to lose or know the feeling off loss.  We're also doing them a dis-service by not teaching them how to take a loss.  Yes, that's why I don't even let my kids beat me in anything - if they win (and they often do) they know it was a true, honest win. If they lose, they know they've got to get their game together to beat their old mom.

There's nothing wrong with losing and learning to deal with it.  In life, we will not always win.  We won't always get the solo or into our first choice college or the job we want. We will face losses and coming in second or third or seventy-fifth. Part of life is learning how to cope, how to dust ourselves off, figure out what went wrong, make some corrections, lean on our faith that we'll "win" one day, and try again.

So if this becomes a movement, I'm all in.  And can we add getting rid of all those daggone snacks, too!?

What do you think of the ribbons & trophies for participation?  

Join the conversation on Facebook: Just Piddlin' with Frances

No comments: