I get it. You don’t want to hear anything political right now. I am with you. But can we set aside party lines for a moment and discuss something? Why are kids’ sports, and in particular – participation trophies – being criticized and called out when people see someone doing or saying something they don’t like?
You know what I am talking about, yes? I have seen numerous posts on social media in recent months from family, friends, random folks, and everywhere in between that follow this line of condemnation, where they take Behavior X or Speech X and start their response by saying, “This is what happens when everyone gets handed a participation trophy…” and they go from there.
Now. A word about violence. In no way, shape, or form would I ever condone, support, or wish for violence. I am all for doing whatever we can to peacefully resist such behavior; so in the case of these “entitlement rants,” how in the world do participation trophies have anything to do with it?
Call me naive if you want, because only one of my children has even participated in organized sports yet, but I think I understand just how well kids’ athletics can be not only overwhelming but also cutthroat when it comes to competition.
Thankfully my son is not at that level of intensity yet. What I see when he plays on a team (and yes, in some cases earns a little “medal” to wear around his neck) has nothing to do with entitlement. It has nothing to do with violence. And it certainly doesn’t seem like something that should be held against him as he grows.
When my kid plays on a field of sport, at this blessedly innocent age and level, I see teamwork and everything that the concept embodies. I see his coaches teaching him rules and standards, and I see him working to understand and follow those. I see him challenging himself by going for the ball even after he’s been knocked down (literally or physically). And best of all, I see him cheering on the sidelines for his teammates when it is not his turn on the field.
My kid is not learning to be entitled from youth sports. My kid is learning to believe in himself and how to work with others. That practice makes progress. How have those lessons found themselves the subject of countless Internet arguments and critical memes?
Like I said, I get it. Many of us, on both sides of the aisle, find ourselves in frustrated places these days. I believe a lot of that frustration comes from fear, especially if we are parents to young Littles. But I have to say, I don’t think that by enrolling and encouraging our children to be part of team – to work with others who may be very, very different from ourselves – we are doing some great harm to the future of them or this country. I just don’t buy it.