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By Max Greenberg

Participation Trophy Discussion Continues...

Uploaded: May 4, 2014

Today's NYT has on opinion piece which argues against those who argue that our kids are coddled with, among other things, participation trophies:

For some reason they cut off the online comments at less than 200, which is pretty early as those things go.

Just wanted to get a show of hands out there: how many think that participation trophies for kids who are part of a team that did not win a championship trophy or a runner-up trophy is a good idea or a bad one? Here's my take on it, please write in with yours.

I'm pretty much against them. Rewarding participation alone does not recognize whether a player gave their best effort or not. Just as I believe that in school there should be two grades, one for academic accomplishment, and the other for effort, I believe that can also be extended to the sports teams our kids play on. Thus you can earn a trophy for winning (limited to first place, second and maybe third) and you can earn a trophy for maximum effort, both at practices and during the games. The effort trophy has the potentional of being awarded to every player in the league, while of course the winners trophy is limited. The coach would explain to the players (and their parents) before the first practice about the earning and awarding of trophies for both achievement and effort. If we really wanted to get "real" about this, just because your team won the championship does not automatically reward every kid of the team with an achievement trophy. If they didn't qualify for the effort trophy they would not get the achievement one. If you are lucky enough to get on a highly achieving team, I don't think you should share in their glory if you were not giving max. effort while practicing and playing. (I don't want to get into a discussion today about those coaches who focus only on the most gifted players on their teams and bascially neglect the development of all the others. This can be greatly discouraging to those who are willing to give max. effort, aren't as good as the starters, and their efforts are not appreciated, encouraged and rewarded by their coach. These coaches are pursuing wins and trophies for themselves and do a disservice to the majority of kids they coach.)

Imagine if our public schools (and private ones for that matter) awarded two grades (if I remember back 50 years or so, our report cards did have a place to rate effort.) Our kids who are discouraged by very high academic achievers in their classes getting all the high marks, would still be motivated to work hard and do their best to achieve the best effort grade. And those kids who are "naturally" gifted and achieve high grades without barely cracking open a book, would be propelled to even higher levels of achievement knowing they were being encouraged and graded for their effort too. Perhaps a blended grading system could be considered?