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Vern Hee: Goodbye participation trophies—hello common sense

The participation trophy. I have been against this for years and finally, a league in this town has come to the same conclusion as I have. The P-Town Little League decided to do away with participation trophies.

Hallelujah! When I heard this from the president of the league I wanted to hug him.

Maybe other leagues in town will follow. I mean, after all, why give these things out? The kids I have talked to over the years know these trophies are meaningless. One kid once referred to them as the loser trophy.

One parent told me that she had over 27 of these at home from all of her kids playing sports and they are all collecting dust in the garage, discarded and many broken, which just goes to show they have no real meaning.

I think a photo or even a pin would have more meaning.

The P-Town Little League had the right idea and gave out toy bats for participating. I think the kids got more out of that than a trophy with no meaning. At least they can play with that.

The president of the league, Lou Banuelos, told me that parents were tired of getting a trophy for not winning anything.

For those who have no clue what a participation trophy is, it is when the league gives everyone a trophy, regardless of whether or not the team won the championship.

I applaud the league on this, and I know it was a hard decision to do this for it goes against what society has been used to. The league had been giving these things out since 2006.

I think it is a travesty that it had lasted this long.

I have talked to many high school coaches about this same topic and all of them agreed that when you give out trophies that don’t mean anything, it doesn’t prepare athletes for high school competition. In fact, they told me it does the opposite and actually hurts the athlete by not preparing them for winning or losing.

“Part of the goal of playing a sport is winning a championship,” Trojans wrestling coach Craig Rieger said. “The goal of any sport is to win and do your best. If you are celebrating just participating, then that’s not the goal. Everyone should be saying, ‘good job, thanks for playing.’ You don’t need a trophy for that.”

Perhaps the biggest lesson a parent or coach can teach a young athlete is how to lose.

“For any true champion, the best lesson learned is losing,” Rieger said. “Nothing should be just given to you. Perhaps that’s what’s wrong with society in many ways.”

Contact sports editor Vern Hee at vhee@pvtimes.com

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