Do Shiny Trophies Come Too Easily?
A new Op-Ed series – Perspective, Opinion & Thought.
It is it time to say enough already? While we generally agree it is important to praise our youth soccer players, what are we really accomplishing by heaping shinny trophies on our young? Doesn’t value come with sweat anymore?
Everyone once in a while it is important to pause and take a breath. I did this recently and noticed that my son’s room was literally littered with trophies. While he may have sweated to earn many of them — including winning league 3 times in a row and more tournament championships than I can count or remember, there were several trophies tucked on the shelf for just showing up when he was 7 years old at baseball.
I think praise is a dangerous tool parents and organizations use to get kids to do what adults want. We all know that overdone praise can be unhealthy, especially if it is not sincere — so why can’t we stop?
Failure is not a treat anyone looks forward to — but learning how to deal with failure is (almost) more important than relishing the joys of success.
If kids do not discover how to deal with failure, how can we expect them not to quit when they meet the monster of disappointment?
Learning to enjoy participation without victory or any reward for showing up is critical. After all, playing soccer is a team sport and there are many valuable lessons learned by being part of a team.
Today’s kids are steeped in a sea of flattery and are denied the chance to learn how to grow stronger from experiencing failure.
All the experts tell us that confidence is key to a players success on the field. Confidence comes from deep within and is earned through sweat, effort and experiencing both the highs of triumph and the lows of loss. Most major professional players I interview were cut from an important team — or worse yet, told that they would never make it by a soccer coach. I am talking about highly successful National Team players who had to overcome failure and tough criticism to climb back up the ladder to make it.
If kids only feel the swarm of praise and never learn how to fall and pick themselves up and go on — are we doing them a favor or setting them up to crash at our house forever?
I find solace in the fact that to be successful you have to have failed. I like that practice and determination is more valuable to success than sheer talent. I would hate for ‘fate’ to be determined by birth and have no control over what can be accomplished.
But, let’s remember that our expectations for our kids to shine should not be more important than preparing them for their future. We should all think our kids are fantastic but maybe we shouldn’t tell them that morning, noon and night but when they have done something to deserve it — and let’s stop adding to the landfills in America with these participation trophies!