Winners and Losers

Hot Lunch

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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.
And during the GWOT Era, Marines judged each other based on whether or not they had the Combat Action Ribbon. Ironically, that's a participation award too. All you had to do was be in combat. Even if you didn't pull your own weight, you still got the CAR.
 

J. Pickard

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I think participation trophies have their place but are overused with kids. An award is a celebration of an accomplishment so handing them out at huge events like the Olympics or some sort of international invitational tournament makes sense because even being chosen to compete at that level means you have accomplished great things and that is worth celebrating. Just being asked to compete in something like a "World Championship" is a huge accomplishment. However, a local tournament or competition put on by "Bob's Karate and Chicken Wings" then they aren't necessary. Mediocrity shouldn't be celebrated.

As far as what lessons can be learned in losing, I can think of quite a few. Being able to accept loss is a very important skill when it comes to being able to cope with undesired outcomes. This alone is key to maintaining good mental health and is something I believe martial arts can offer. Understanding that losing is a pathway to improvement is a super valuable skill that most people don't have. If you lose it doesn't mean that you didn't work hard necessarily, but it can highlight areas that need improvement that you didn't even know you had; it helps you focus on the real areas needed to improve. If you always win or are always awarded an accolade of some type, then there is no need to work toward higher levels of development. Additionally if you lose at first but then come back to win later on it makes the victory more meaningful. Nobody cares about the 1st place medal they won in sparring because they were the only one in their division and won by default. Conversely, winning a 3rd place medal that you won after beating 12 other competitors and being moved up to a more difficult division is much more impressive and a much more impressive feat than the unearned 1st place medal.

Our elementary and teenage students compete a lot and they normally do really well and bring home lots of medals and trophies, but when they go too long without losing they get complacent and don't work as hard. When they lose, they don't like it and take it as a sign to train harder and usually have the best tournament of the year immediately following a loss. They are more well adjusted to life as a whole when they experience defeat even though they worked hard, which is very much how real life works. You can do everything right, make no mistakes and still lose, that's life.

I do, however, think commemorative items for participation is a great idea! something like every competitor gets a certificate to commemorate their participation when they register is a great memento to look back on and it's not an award of any kind, so it doesn't praise mediocrity or low effort in any way.
 

Gyakuto

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Small Child (SC): Dad! I came 5th in the egg and spoon race at school and I feel really sad.
Dad: Hmmm宇hat feeling you have, does it physically hurt you? Are you damaged by your loss?
SC: Im sad, yes.
Dad: I see. But does it really matter? Are you loved any less by your two dads? Will your friends shun you?
SC: They might make fun of me!
Dad: Yes but your real friends will pull your leg out of a feeling of fraternity and love. Those others dont really matter . Can you see that?
SC: Yes I think so
Dad: Has this experience, perhaps given you any ideas about future success in the egg and spoon race?
SC: I dont know. Perhaps prepare a little more thoroughly next time? Practise balancing the egg on a spoon and the running with it?
Dad: You could yes, but in my experience cheating is the answer. Put your bloody thumb on the bas*ard egg to hold it in place! Now pass me that stick, I need to beat you for bringing shame on your ancestors
SC: Awwww如lease dad, not the beating stick again..
Dad: Sorry son, I dont make the rules.
 

Hot Lunch

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I think participation trophies have their place but are overused with kids. An award is a celebration of an accomplishment so handing them out at huge events like the Olympics or some sort of international invitational tournament makes sense because even being chosen to compete at that level means you have accomplished great things and that is worth celebrating. Just being asked to compete in something like a "World Championship" is a huge accomplishment. However, a local tournament or competition put on by "Bob's Karate and Chicken Wings" then they aren't necessary. Mediocrity shouldn't be celebrated.
Judge this scenario:

1st Place gets a 4ft tall trophy
2nd Place gets a 3ft tall trophy
3rd place gets a 2ft tall trophy
Participation trophy for everyone else is about nine inches tall, and can easily be placed on a desk.

Clearly, the participation trophy lacks the prestigious size or appearance of the trophies awarded to those who placed. Do you still consider this to be a celebration of mediocrity? Do you think kids will be content with it, and not want one of the "big" trophies next time?
 
OP
Bill Mattocks

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However, a local tournament or competition put on by "Bob's Karate and Chicken Wings" then they aren't necessary. Mediocrity shouldn't be celebrated.
I grew up in small towns. The local public school in one case was 100 students; the local population was only 400. What we had is what we had. So the local track meet, although not filled with fabulous athletes, was still an important local event. I don't see it as mediocrity to be normal.

As far as what lessons can be learned in losing, I can think of quite a few. Being able to accept loss is a very important skill when it comes to being able to cope with undesired outcomes.
There will be plenty of opportunities for that. These are children, whose dreams, in many cases, are rather easily crushed.

This alone is key to maintaining good mental health and is something I believe martial arts can offer. Understanding that losing is a pathway to improvement is a super valuable skill that most people don't have. If you lose it doesn't mean that you didn't work hard necessarily, but it can highlight areas that need improvement that you didn't even know you had; it helps you focus on the real areas needed to improve. If you always win or are always awarded an accolade of some type, then there is no need to work toward higher levels of development. Additionally if you lose at first but then come back to win later on it makes the victory more meaningful. Nobody cares about the 1st place medal they won in sparring because they were the only one in their division and won by default. Conversely, winning a 3rd place medal that you won after beating 12 other competitors and being moved up to a more difficult division is much more impressive and a much more impressive feat than the unearned 1st place medal.
Winning is fabulous. A participation award is not a winner's trophy. I don't understand why they're being conflated. No one is declaring that everyone is a winner by giving out a participation award.

Our elementary and teenage students compete a lot and they normally do really well and bring home lots of medals and trophies, but when they go too long without losing they get complacent and don't work as hard. When they lose, they don't like it and take it as a sign to train harder and usually have the best tournament of the year immediately following a loss. They are more well adjusted to life as a whole when they experience defeat even though they worked hard, which is very much how real life works. You can do everything right, make no mistakes and still lose, that's life.
Again, not the same as a participation award.

I do, however, think commemorative items for participation is a great idea! something like every competitor gets a certificate to commemorate their participation when they register is a great memento to look back on and it's not an award of any kind, so it doesn't praise mediocrity or low effort in any way.
That's what I am talking about, yes. Celebrating the effort, encouraging them to keep going. Not calling them winners when they did not win. And again, these are kids we're talking about. They will have all kinds of opportunities to have their dreams and goals crushed by life and other humans. Time enough for that.
 
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Bill Mattocks

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And during the GWOT Era, Marines judged each other based on whether or not they had the Combat Action Ribbon. Ironically, that's a participation award too. All you had to do was be in combat. Even if you didn't pull your own weight, you still got the CAR.
I don't even have that; our war was not declared so we got bupkis even when people shot at us. I have a Good Conduct Medal and an Overseas Deployment Ribbon. Two very mediocre participation awards. The GCM is for not getting into (caught at) trouble for three years. It's basically a good breathing award.
 

Gyakuto

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Really? I thought this comparison of personal style to poor character had died with the 1980s. What decade is it? Which one of you guys invented time travel and didn't tell anybody?
Shaggy long hair and ripped clothing has been shown to have a direct correlation to slovenliness and criminality.
 

J. Pickard

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Judge this scenario:

1st Place gets a 4ft tall trophy
2nd Place gets a 3ft tall trophy
3rd place gets a 2ft tall trophy
Participation trophy for everyone else is about nine inches tall, and can easily be placed on a desk.

Clearly, the participation trophy lacks the prestigious size or appearance of the trophies awarded to those who placed. Do you still consider this to be a celebration of mediocrity? Do you think kids will be content with it, and not want one of the "big" trophies next
Sure, but its still a trophy. Trophies have an intrinsic message of accomplishment and victory assigned to them. It is the literal reason they exist. People see a trophy and assume a victory or accomplishment of somekind. A certificate or ribbon or something like that doesnt have the same value automatically attached to them.
 

J. Pickard

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That's what I am talking about, yes. Celebrating the effort, encouraging them to keep going. Not calling them winners when they did not win. And again, these are kids we're talking about. They will have all kinds of opportunities to have their dreams and goals crushed by life and other humans. Time enough for that
Well then I suppose my issue is a semantic one in regards to specific use of the word "trophy".
 

J. Pickard

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Shaggy long hair and ripped clothing has been shown to have a direct correlation to slovenliness and criminality.
Bold claim, whats your source? This is a tangeable variable that should be easy to prove and yet after 20 minutes looking up scholarly articles I cant find anything that supports your claim. Sounds like some BS you just made up.
 

Hot Lunch

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Sure, but its still a trophy. Trophies have an intrinsic message of accomplishment and victory assigned to them. It is the literal reason they exist. People see a trophy and assume a victory or accomplishment of somekind. A certificate or ribbon or something like that doesnt have the same value automatically attached to them.
So, you have an excuse that justifies participation medals in the Olympics and you're saying that small participation trophies that are dwarfed by trophies won by those who placed are still bad.

Are we dead set on calling the younger generation "soft?" Because that's what it looks like.
 

Dirty Dog

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The only winning that counts is winning the Last Person Thread. There are no trophies for second place.
 

Steve

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A lot of layers to this discussion.

I think teaching kids to be resilient is very important and rewarding them for effort can be a part of that. I guess simply put, I think that if the goal is to teach kids to be happy, healthy, and resilient, focusing less on winning and losing, and more on effort and enjoying being bad at things is the way to go.

And for what it's worth, I think kids are smarter than we sometimes give them credit. I mean, the very idea that they don't understand the functional difference between a first place trophy and a participation ribbon is ludicrous to me. :)
 

drop bear

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What? What does it teach?
To try to win and to be okay with risking loss.

People overcome this when they start BJJ. because almost nobody is good at it. And everyone fights back.

The moves you learn just don't work for like, ages.

But when they do start to work you have a better grasp of your own capabilities.

I love watching a self defence grading because it is always about removing that sense of winning and loosing.

You don't want to be that guy who makes your friends fail. So you put more work in to being beaten up than the guy doing the beating.

The result though isn't a result. You don't get an indication of someone's ability. They don't get a real understanding of the technique.

I am not sure what that does.
 
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drop bear

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This is the one.

And the instructor is even like "yeah give it to her" and they just don't.


And this is why winning and loosing is important for your personal development.
 

J. Pickard

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So, you have an excuse that justifies participation medals in the Olympics and you're saying that small participation trophies that are dwarfed by trophies won by those who placed are still bad.
The difference I would make is that even making it to the Olympics is a huge feat in itself. Just showing up to a local tournament not so much. If you get awarded just for showing up then it doesn't really seem like much of an award. The victories remembered are the ones hard earned, not the ones given freely. To even be considered and to be allowed to compete in the Olympics, or even to qualify for tryouts, you need to be among the best in the whole world, that's a victory, a big one. Recognize it, reward it, no problem. What do you have to do to get a participation trophy in a local tournament? Pay the entry fee? big deal, literally any person in the world can do that, it's not an accomplishment at all so giving a trophy or medal, something that expressly signifies one thing and one thing only, accomplishment, is a bit much.

And just for clarity, this is just my opinion explained in detail and not an attempt to persuade anyone to change the way they do things. Agree or disagree, you do what you feel is right for your students and your school. If participation trophies/medals work for you then who the hell am I to tell you to stop?
 

J. Pickard

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And for what it's worth, I think kids are smarter than we sometimes give them credit. I mean, the very idea that they don't understand the functional difference between a first place trophy and a participation ribbon is ludicrous to me. :)
I don't think anybody is arguing this. However, I have seen personally people (adults included) that try to pass off participation trophies as something they "won" and try to spin the story as if they achieved some large feat of victory when in reality they got it just for showing up. It's harder to pass that off with something less directly associated with winning given that most participation trophies are just smaller versions of the place trophies with no real distinguishing marks to say otherwise.
 

Hot Lunch

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I don't think anybody is arguing this. However, I have seen personally people (adults included) that try to pass off participation trophies as something they "won" and try to spin the story as if they achieved some large feat of victory when in reality they got it just for showing up. It's harder to pass that off with something less directly associated with winning given that most participation trophies are just smaller versions of the place trophies with no real distinguishing marks to say otherwise.
But the recipients of the participation trophies know what it's for. Or is your argument that they should be done away with because recipients may lie about them?

Your argument would be a strong one if the recipients themselves actually believe that they won or placed because of the participation trophy. But unless they rode the short bus, we know that's not the case.
 

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