Within the past couple of weeks I’ve noticed headlines and articles about participation awards. I thought it was important to set the record straight from my personal perspective as someone who has coached and continues to coach many young aspiring athletes.
Some people believe the practice of participation awards contributes to a society with a sense of entitlement. Some people believe it awards mediocrity. They believe our children do not learn anything by receiving these awards and should earn their medals or trophies. I agree that a sense of entitlement is not good and that awards should be earned not given for mediocrity. However, this is not what a participation award is.
The award, by definition, is for participating. Participating is defined by parents and coaches. Perhaps there are some children in youth sports and activities receiving these awards without participating. I don’t know. What I do know is that the children who participate as Hustlers and in UnFettered Athletics work very hard! They earn everything they get.
The first thing they learn is the importance of hustling both off and on the field. They play in an alert and aggressive manner. They also play with humility, pride, and respect. One of the next things they learn is how important it is to play with heart and how important it is to play with strong legs. They learn the way to strengthen their heart and legs is to run. When they’re tired, they run. When they’re thirsty they run.
Our young athletes work very hard and our standards and expectations are part of the reason parents continue to have their kids participate season after season and recommend others to do the same. But we also keep things in perspective because there are more important things than the score on the board at the end of the game. We have two goals every time we take the field or court: Have Fun and Get Better.
This is how we measure our success. We do not want to teach our youth that giving their best isn’t good enough if they didn’t score more than the other team. This will teach them to not participate…to not try…anything…ever…in life. Giving less than their best isn’t good enough. Giving their best is all they can do and it is awesome!
If your children aren’t learning these things when they participate in sports and activities it is not because of the award. Do not blame inanimate medals and trophies. What are we as parents and coaches teaching our youth? It takes courage and strength to step out on the field or court in front of however many fans there are cheering, screaming, and hollering and give everything they have. Win or lose they have accomplished more than the individual who didn’t show up and participate.
When children participate with UnFettered Athletics and the Hustlers they work hard, they give their all, they have fun, and they get better. They earn their participation medals and we are proud to award them.