Winners and Losers

Bill Mattocks

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Question was posted in a FB group recently with regard to 'Participation Awards'. Seems people come down on both sides. To be clear, I think they're fine in their place.

We all know there are winners and losers in life. Most of us have been through the school of hard knocks, and we know that there's no such thing as fair, or trophies for showing up, etc. We get what we get through hard work, luck, good timing, grasping opportunities, marrying well, or whatever. Few of us are born with a silver spoon in our mouths, even fewer win lotteries. In other words, we work for what we have. I get it.

With regard to martial arts, there's a trend towards giving trophies to all participants at tournaments to the kids. You show up, you get a trophy of some kind. Usually there are bigger and more elaborate prizes for winners in various categories, but everybody takes home something.

Personally, I have no problem with it. I think it encourages the kids to continue striving. I don't think it devalues the trophies of the kids who win at each category.

Yes, I know that not everyone is a winner. But I don't think it creates an entitlement mentality, as apparently some do. I just think kids are easily discouraged, so anything that lifts them up and celebrates them as a form of encouragement is a good thing.

The world will kick them in the teeth soon enough. Let them have some fun and show off what they 'won' to their friends and relatives. It hurts nothing.
 

HighKick

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There is a TON of value in learning how to lose. Invaluable lessons that we use throughout life. A very key part in learning how to strive to do better.
I take great issue with participation trophies.
 

Hot Lunch

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Contrary to popular belief, "participation trophies" aren't new, and they didn't start with Millennials. The IOC has been giving out participation medals since the First Olympiad in 1896.

If everyone got the same trophy, then it would be a problem. But that's not the case. The size and/or design of participation trophies make it abundantly clear that the recipients are not the same as those who placed. And as long as that part is understood, there's no issue.

The bashing of "participation trophies" is a talking point to make the speaker sound tough. "Whoah, you didn't get a participation when you were a kid? Man, I wouldn't want to cross you in a bar!"
 

Gyakuto

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Contrary to popular belief, "participation trophies" aren't new, and they didn't start with Millennials. The IOC has been giving out participation medals since the First Olympiad in 1896.
Yes, theyre called silver and bronze or loser and second loser as theyre sometimes called
 
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Bill Mattocks

Bill Mattocks

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There is a TON of value in learning how to lose. Invaluable lessons that we use throughout life. A very key part in learning how to strive to do better.
I take great issue with participation trophies.
What value?

How does being told you're a loser make you strive to do better? It may have that effect on some. On others, it encourages them to quit.

What does a participation trophy say? Does it say you won? No. It says you participated. It's a celebration of competing, of striving, of doing something more than most.

Every road race I've ever see gives out t-shirts. How dare they. Participation trophies. Don't they know they're all losers?
 

Gyakuto

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What value?

How does being told you're a loser make you strive to do better? It may have that effect on some. On others, it encourages them to quit.
Well, weve had decades of everyone being a winner or a deferred winner and look what thats done to the youth of today. Shaggy haircuts, ripped clothing and glued to their phones as though there are naked ladies on there.
 

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Well, weve had decades of everyone being a winner or a deferred winner and look what thats done to the youth of today. Shaggy haircuts, ripped clothing and glued to their phones as though there are naked ladies on there.
Checks iPhone, Hey what do you know?
 
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Bill Mattocks

Bill Mattocks

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So anyone who doesn't win is cocky and needs to be humbled? Hundreds of kids participate in a tournament. There's a winner in each division and a Grand Champion. The rest, presumably, are cocky losers who are need of being humbled?

Yeah, no.

Humility is not something these kids need at this stage of the game. What they need is encouragement.
 

Hot Lunch

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Yes, theyre called silver and bronze or loser and second loser as theyre sometimes called
Or... exactly what they are. Participation medals, with no indication of placement.
thumb02663.jpg
 

Hot Lunch

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Well, weve had decades of everyone being a winner or a deferred winner and look what thats done to the youth of today. Shaggy haircuts, ripped clothing and glued to their phones as though there are naked ladies on there.
They existed in the 1960's, too. Only they had LSD instead of smartphones.
 

Gyakuto

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I'm sure that encourages kids.
Is this everyone is a winner preparing children for the adult world of employment? For example, at university, not everyone will pass their exams or receive a merit or distinction. Not everybody even gets into Uni/pilot school/ that promotion/the ISS. If theyve always received some acknowledgment of success, how are they going to develop the strategies to deal with the crushing feeling of defeat?

Luckily, sports and MA etc are not important so give them all a medal a la Dick Dastardlys Mutley, but if they were giving out participation awards for those things that are important in life, then it would be to the detriment of childrens character development.
 

Gyakuto

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Or... exactly what they are. Participation medals, with no indication of placement.View attachment 30744
I think 2nd and third places should not receive any commendations or a rostrum place. First place medals should made of diamond and the podium 15 feet high.
 
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Bill Mattocks

Bill Mattocks

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Is this everyone is a winner preparing children for the adult world of employment? For example, at university, not everyone will pass their exams or receive a merit or distinction. Not everybody even gets into Uni/pilot school/ that promotion/the ISS. If theyve always received some acknowledgment of success, how are they going to develop the strategies to deal with the crushing feeling of defeat?
Acknowledging achievement is not the same as saying everyone is a winner.

Luckily, sports and MA etc are not important so give them all a medal a la Dick Dastardlys Mutley, but if they were giving out participation awards for those things that are important in life, then it would be to the detriment of childrens character development.
Celebrating a child's accomplishment by giving them some token they can use to remember and be proud of doesn't stop them from wanting more.

Frankly, my life is littered with participation awards. I joined a bowling league when I was a kid in the 1960s. Everybody got a little trophy. I thought it was cool. I didn't think it made me a champion, I didn't win anything. But it looked nice on my desk and I kept bowling until high school.

Cub Scouts? Yes, I believe I got a few 'achievement badges' or whatever they called them. I wasn't the best Cub Scout. Just a kid who could make a wallet out of pre-perforated leather and identify different kinds of skunks from photos.

I earned the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor as a US Marine for graduating Marine Corps boot camp; just like everyone else who graduated. Participation award. I wasn't the best. There's only one Honorman per platoon, and it wasn't me. I'm a loser.

I've got a DD-214 that says Honorable Discharge. But so does everyone else who served and didn't get in trouble. Participation award. Clearly I'm a loser.

College Degree? I wasn't Magna Cum Laude, so again, participation award and yep, I'm a loser.

We don't really do tournaments in our dojo. Nobody has to go to them, but if they do want to go, we'll help prepare them, and I've made sure to show up and cheer on a few students over the years. The young ones who come home with some token of their participation have been uniformly excited about it, and they enjoyed showing off their little medals to the dojo the next week. It was fun and encouraging. I truly do not understand the anger some adults have over it. We should instead make sure they know they are losers? That there's only one winner and everybody else sucks? Nah. There are winners, sure. Celebrate them, they get the big trophy. But everybody else did something to be there. They tried. It's worth a pat on the back and a few encouraging words. Nobody is injured by giving them some token of their effort.
 
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