OK, maybe not a moron, but…
Beloved Cleveland villain James Harrison posted a picture on Instagram a few days ago saying that his six and eight year olds wouldn’t be keeping their participation trophies and he’d be returning them. So right now the hot topic around the interwebs and the airwaves is the debate about kids and participation trophies. I know, shoot me, right? I’d almost rather have a debate about PSI’s in a football rather than write about #TrophyGate yet here we are. Here are my thoughts and why I think that if you’re anti participation trophy then you’re kind of a douche, they’ve been giving them away forever.
If you’re “win at all costs” guy when the child is 6 years old then you’re an asshole plain and simple. Winning games at 6 or 8 years old means nothing. Parents should be focused on whether their child can field a ground ball, shoot a free throw, or throw a spiral when they’re 6. You think the kid in left field digging his finger in his ass should be concerned about whether he wins or loses? Nah. Instructional leagues are meant to be as what the name suggests. Instructional. When you’re that young you should be learning fundamentals, teamwork, and making friends that’ll last your lifetime. To this day some of my very best friends are the kids I grew up playing little league sports with.
Looking back on it, here are what some of my fellow “participation trophy” little league kids I grew up with have accomplished or what they’re up to today- A handful of Division 1 All-Ohio athletes, Quarterback of a Division 1 state championship team, another All-Ohio QB who’s currently in the NFL, various division 1 college basketball players, A TON of Division 3 OAC athletes, A few guys with a PhD, a Michigan State basketball player, a LOT of CPAs, a Notre Dame wide receiver, an NFL scout, a guy who works on oil rigs, a few high school burnouts, a guy pitching in AAA, a few teachers, a lawyer, etc. etc. Can you imagine if those kids didn’t get that participation trophy growing up? Probably would have had two NFL quarterbacks instead of one. Ha. What a bunch of pussies my generation is!
The thing about participation trophies is that no one actually liked getting participation trophies. Even when we were younger we’d laugh about the quality of the trophies. The participation trophies are always way shittier than the trophies that the 1st, 2nd or 3rd place teams receive. These are the trophies that you wouldn’t display proudly on the living room mantle. I can distinctly remember playing in a basketball tournament when I was about 9 or 10 and every kid who wasn’t on the team that won the tournament (so like 90% of the kids) received a trophy of a tiny basketball. The basketball was roughly around the size of a left nut. No one wanted it, or strived to get it. It wasn’t like we spent all those hours practicing to get the Nut Trohpy. It was more of a “Thanks for paying a shit ton of money to play in our tournament, here’s this shitty mini basketball trophy that cost 40 cents to make, hope you come back next year!” That one went to the back of the trophy shelf behind the other awards so it wouldn’t be seen. Looking back, that was probably my favorite trophy because it was so pathetic. You hear that, hardasses?! My favorite trophy was a participation trophy!
Now I’m not saying participation trophies should last until high school or middle school sports. No. They should stop around 10 or 11 years old. Stop at the age when kids have developed a skillset to actually play the game competitively. When they’ve found the position they like to play and aren’t just running around like a bunch of clueless shitheads on the field. At that age the kids that are just “happy to be there” start weeding themselves out and stop playing completely. Sports aren’t for everyone and little league helps decide if they want to continue down that competitive sports path. It’s great if they want to keep playing and it’s also great if they find out sports isn’t for them.
You’ll hear the all the anti-trophy people screaming till they’re blue in the face “LIFE IS ABOUT WINNING AND LOSING. THIS NEXT GENERATION HAS A LOSER MENTALITY. THIS IS WHY CHINA IS WINNING!” Yes. I’m sure that one winter when you got a trophy when you were 7 years old, and your team sucked in basketball will accurately foreshadow what your life will be like down the road. Does anyone realize how insanely dumb this sounds or is it just me? Participation trophies have been handed out for as long as I can remember so why is it such a hot topic now?
Do you know how unbearable it is to go to a 6 year old’s game and be next to “Win at all costs” guy? Usually he’ll be around 5’9 230 lbs built like a cardboard box, tank top on, Oakleys or some sort of sport sunglasses, backwards ballcap, shorts, sandals, and a calf tattoo. He’ll usually be telling the kindergarteners to “HUSTLE!” or “WHY ARE YOU THROWING IT THERE” or “WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?!” These parents are just the best. Trying to live vicariously through your 6 year old is always great for both parties involved. Super healthy stuff. Thinking back on it, the parents that pushed their kids too hard when they were younger ended up driving their kids away from sports altogether. It actually had an adverse effect. Imagine that!
So my advice to all those parents out there- Let your kid play sports, let them get that shitty participation trophy. Once they lay eyes on the big prize, that’s what they’ll aim for. Some of those participation trophy kids will become lawyers. Some will become NFL quarterbacks, CPAs, college athletes, or even better; bloggers that film themselves drinking beer and running conditioning tests.
PS- Maybe James Harrison isn’t the best person to get parenting advice from because…. Well, yeah. Also, the fact that he says “sorry I’m not sorry” and he isn’t a 19 year old sorority girl makes him one of the biggest assholes on the planet.