Kids Still Want to Win

Kids Still Want to WinI often hear rants and jokes about how we're breeding a generation of underachievers by rewarding them for participation. The insinuation is that we don't keep score and everyone is regarded as a winner. This isn't true, nor is it new.

In the early 80s, when I started my house league hockey and softball career, we all received participation trophies, but we played to be champions. In my observation with my 12-year old son, nothing has changed.

My son receives a participation trophy, but that's not the trophy he plays for. He wants to win it all, as do his teammates and coaches. Even though it's house league, it's competitive, and everyone wants to end the season as champions.

Since tee-ball, they've been keeping score with winners and losers. Since Tyke hockey, they've been coached to end the season #1.

The participation trophy isn't the goal, and it isn't new. Kids still want to win.

James' championship season

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twins from bolton

I coached Rep Baseball for 8 years since Rookie - 8-9 year olds.
For 2 years our team was BRUTAL & never won a game, yea 2 years.
But me & other coaches knew we had a core of good players & playing together will make a difference. Our 3rd year being seeded last in the York Simcoe playoffs we trudged along & got to the final & every team was surprised. We came in 2nd & I still have the TShirt with finalists given to us.

Participation medals are great for younger players to "see some hardware" but as they get older (12-13) getting a participation medal is a JOKE. Our Rep tournaments in Bolton, participation medals are only given out up to Peewee.

Kids want to win, but ultimately DO YOUR BEST & if you don't win, at least you tried.

June 29, 2014 @ 3:19 PM

Rick C in Oakville

The first year my son's soccer league didn't give participation medals for the losing teams, a band of parents on our team went out and bought them. In the discussions with the other parents, I (and a couple of the other dads) were the dissenters, saying our son's knew at this level they had to go all the way to get the trophy. The other parents couldn't resign themselves to the fact that 9-10 year olds shouldn't receive some recognition for at least playing the season.

June 29, 2014 @ 4:14 PM

twins from bolton

@Rick C

Agree, kids playing sports or even living at home have to be CODDLED today.

As parents the solution is saying you did your best & keep strong for next year.

June 29, 2014 @ 4:54 PM


We used to get participation ribbons in elementary schools. For some sports, I believe they still do. I don't see anything wrong with handing out a participation ribbon to acknowledge a commitment. They are inexpensive and everyone should get one - even the championship team.

June 29, 2014 @ 5:14 PM


Yeah, kids want to compete, and can handle losing. It's the idiotic parents like Rick C. mentioned that are the problem.

June 30, 2014 @ 9:46 AM


I respectfully disagree. Although I do agree with participation ribbons, the school system today is not preparing kids for the real highs and lows of the real world. Most come out with high expectations but...they don't know how to win and just as important....they do not know how to handle real adversity.

I am guessing most of us here are roughly the same age and when we went through school, we won and lost and although it hurt sometimes...we learned how to handle it and were much better prepared for the real world than kids today. At least that has been my experience in many younger people I have hired recently. There are always some 'stars' in every generation, however I am noticing that percentage gets smaller as the years pass.

June 30, 2014 @ 11:16 AM


I believe the kids that want to win it all are the kids that want to be there. The participation medals/ribbons etc.. are for the kids that don't really want to be there but the parents sign them up. For a truly competitive kid, winning it all is all that matters and for these kids second place is not an option. Now, @TwinsFromBolton, I understand that in year three to go from not winning a game in two seasons to coming in 2nd is great and those boys probably felt like they truly did win it all.

July 2, 2014 @ 1:20 PM

twins from bolton


Yea we did get t shirts with YSBA finalists on it & made the Bolton Enterprise front page of the newspaper that week.

We made the final & none of the 10 other teams got anything.

July 2, 2014 @ 1:44 PM

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