When I was a kid I played most sports that were available at the time. Sports was my life, my dream of becoming a professional baseball player who would be the first to break Babe Ruth’s home run record. Trouble was I couldn’t hit that well, was a poor fielder and spent most of my playing days on the bench in the sports I played.

As a result my trophy case is empty. If I was playing those sports today with the same talents I had then, my trophy case would be filled.

In my day you were awarded for winning and to the best went the trophies; the losers accepted the fact that the winners walked away not only with trophies but bragging rights. To be the best, to be a winner we had to work harder nothing would be given to us.

There were no scars for life because we were rejected by not receiving a trophy, it only made us tougher and more agressive…for those who wanted to excell, the others rode the bench.

Today those youngsters playing sports are rewarded for being second best, losers, all receive a trophy for showing up, even if they don’t show up all the time. Winning is not a priority, Leo Durocher famous line, “Nice guys finish last” doesn’t mean squat in today’s world finishing last gains you as much as finishing first, less the larger trophy, but heck I have my little trophy who cares I’m a lousy player.

Are we providing any incentive to our youth?  Is this why our country is no longer the manufacturing giant it once was because mediocrity is good enough?  Are we teaching our kids not to aim high because they will be rewarded if they don’t reach the top?

Then when they get out into the real world they can’t understand why they keep losing their jobs or are not advancing? They’ve been trained being a loser is ok.

Since when did someone mandate everyone has to receive a trophy for showing up? Winning is not everything, it’s the only thing that counts; you have to learn to accept losing but you don’t have to make a career out of it.

Take away the trophies, teach sportsmanship, leadership, and inspire success in sports; the trophies will follow.



  1. on a much lower level frank, a some point we were enlightened to the scars that consistent failure did to children. there are many levels to being a ‘winner’. sometimes that little kudo is the only feeling of self pride a child will experience. it must feel good and be encouraging to a child who doesn’t have any self worth to receive a little trophy. i’m sure just participating can be a winning event for them. i agree with the rest of ur article. i just don’t know where or how reality needs to be faced by those kids. i guess eventually they have to learn that skill is the primary factor.

  2. Excellent point Frank, and I am afraid it is indicative of a mass “dumbing down” of much of the framework of our country today, where the kind of independent toughness of mind that bred the massive progress made by this country in the past 100 years is being moderated out of existence. We are over regulating and over sensitizing nearly every facet of our society. While I appreciate the need for compassion and humanity-and am proud that this nation truly does value the individual- we are not all created equal, and we need to strive for success and satisfaction in those areas in which we can excel. Personally, I want to be the next American Idol, but sadly, have had to face that I can’t sing a note and would need to find another way to make a living. And further, like you, I loved sports. I did not always, or even most of the time, start, but I learned to practice and play for the love of the game and the satisfaction of being part of a team. Big lesson, well learned, and one that has helped me put food on my family’s table for a long time.Lastly, I would offer an opiniion that much of what we are seeing in schools and on teams today has more to do with parents wanting to live and achieve through their children than their children feeling less than valued for sitting the bench, getting detention or ebing second string. As parents, we need to frame how our kids see this part of life.

    • lynda u have a well thought out and well written post. part of the problem is that if u r not, in fact, created “equal” you are most likely going to be herded into the same corral, only to spiral downward. somehow when educational ‘standards’ became the law of the land, it automatically created a situation where u either meet the standards or u don’t. and if u don’t then ways are provided, costing money, to try to make u meet them. so instead of providing other avenues, like sussex tech use to do, this group learns to accept inadequacies with no alternative. not being good at what others are good at should not be a failure but an opportunity. and yes, parents should certainly protect and instill self-worth in their kids, regardless of whether they are ‘standard’ or not.

      • Agreed Carol. I attended a vocational school back in a time when they existed for the benefit of those for whom college was either not desired or within reach. I will tell you that the pursuit of an education targeting a career vs further education was an honorable one, and for those of us who chose that course of action, it did help build self esteem and self worth that certainly offset the stigma which the mainstream media has attached to folks not choosing college. I clearly remember Special Ed students completing a course in building and grounds maintenance who left high school with the security of a job and a sense of accomplishment. The reality is that while we are equal in the eyes of God, we are not all created with equal abilities. I feel that what we truly need are the equal opportunities that should come with the recognition that there is honor and dignity in work and in working up to your own individual potential-whatever that may be- and that not everyone will follow the same path at the same pace with the same results. That is real equality. Not some dumbed down, diluted, one size fits all approach to education, where our teachers are held accountable for the lack of parental responsibility, the politics of administrations and the wildly swinging pendulum of the next big innovation in educational theory and application.

  3. i think the pendulum has swung too far or forgotten to swing back. even that is complicated. i have tried to hold kids back ( don’t like ‘fail’) before and been overruled when parents became part of the decision. administrator buckled.

  4. School today is no different today than the rest of society; Give somebody something for nothing because you feel sorry for them. Or in a lot of today’s cases; you want their vote. This accomplishes nothing ! “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach him to fish, feed him for life .”

  5. When I was eight years old my little league team was undefeated through the first ten games. Our coach told us that if we went undefeated we would get “a little trophy”. Needless to say, we lost our last two games, and although we were still in first place we never got a trophy, because we failed to meet the expectations and requirements he had set for us. I’m now fifty two years old, and I remember it obviously, but I am also thankful that he stayed true to his word. If you reward people for failure, be it a sporting event or whatever, eventually it will become an expectation. Teams win and lose, that’s why you keep score.

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