Kids Motherhood

Why Do Kids’ Sports Get All the Blame?

Why Do Kids' Sports Get All the Blame?
Written by Jenni Welsch

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. 

About the author

Jenni Welsch

A South Dakota girl at heart, Jenni has made a home in Hastings with her cool Nebraska guy and their four sweet babes. On top of being a stay at home mama, she is also a certified yoga teacher and part-time college writing instructor; writing on her blog keeps all of her roles and loves in life together.

Before Jenni’s oldest fell head over heels for Angry Birds, he once had a thing for dinosaurs. The Maiasaura is a dinosaur named for being a “good mother lizard” which is where she draws inspiration for her blog about mamahood, The Modern Maiasaura, in which some days are more good and others more lizard.

You can read more and follow along with all of Jenni’s latest kid antics, yoga adventures, and mama-isms at http://


  • I think the negative comments may come from people who’ve dealt with families who place to total importance on being the best and always winning. I agree sports are great for learning to work as a team, a sense of accomplishment, there are many great lessons. I think the entitlement is often taught by the parents, not the sport; extremes are not the norm.

    • That is a great point, Marisa. I agree, extremes are not the norm, which is why I wish people would lay off on poo-pooing participation trophies. If it really doesn’t matter who wins or loses (which is my opinion), why does it matter if everyone gets credit for participating? Plenty of people don’t even take the first step when it comes to being involved, but that is an entirely other conversation. 😉

  • I agree with you that sports are getting a bad rap lately, and I also think they teach such great qualities to our kids. I will absolutely be encouraging mine in whichever sports they want to do. We have to make everything into an argument these days, don’t we! 🙁

    • Amen to that! Less picking sides, more getting to know each other and listening to each other; that’s what I would like to see! 🙂

  • I think you are correct with the positive developmental aspects of children playing organized team sports, but miss the mark on what the general complaint is ref: ‘everyone gets a trophy’. As a parent/coach, my role is to challenge the children and help them discover how resilient they are within a safe and fun environment. At some point, there will be winners and losers; teaching the children to handle both outcomes is incredibly important. Some folks believe participation trophies delay this lesson indefinitely, weakening competitive nature and robbing the children of much needed resiliency. Put yourself in an employers