One of these three medals is a participation medal. The other two are first place medals. Can you pick out the participation medal?
Sorry…. the one shown above is not for you. We don’t give out participation medals in 63Games if your bracket busts… And if you are not happy with that rest assured you will be better for it.
The participation medal in the group above was the most recent my daughter received. I took this photo before I threw it in the trash like I have done with all of its predecessors. After the end of each season I have had a conversation with her about the medals and why we are not keeping them.
This past summer my daughter won her first medal in youth sports. Her team, the cardinals, finished first in their league. After the joyous occasion I took a photo of her smiling with the medal. I also posted the photo for my friends on facebook.
The post had a lot of support but also some questions on the thought behind it. I never put much thought behind the decision, I was acting on what felt right. After 4 plus years of youth sports in our family I finally sat down with a friend to discuss my “Why” behind the decision to not allow participation medals. Here were five why’s.
The game is meant to be fun
The most important fundamental concept behind youth sports should be fun. An 8 year old should be out there to learn and have a good time. A medal at the end of the season just confuses our youth on what the purpose is. I therefore support the absence of medals all together at a young age. There is a place for competition in sports and it can come later, but if you don’t learn to have fun and enjoy the sport before the competitive days it’s a bust. Our children need physical activity and to learn to play a game and enjoy themselves. Unfortunately the fun comes last for many children and it’s very sad. I have friends who grew up loving sports, but now as an adult won’t step foot on a court or field to play the game anymore. Somewhere along the way it didn’t become fun anymore or maybe it never was. This season I found myself enjoying watching my daughter in her second season of softball. I enjoyed watching her because she was enjoying playing.
Our kids don’t need more STUFF
When did we need to get STUFF every time we did something? Party Favors, excessive gifts for birthdays, regular store trips, youth sports, etc. Our children have so much STUFF that it’s hard for them to place value on any of it. I would bet heavily that my children would not miss or even recall half of the STUFF they have if it up’d and walked out of the house tonight. Our children need to learn how to care for their belongings and to take pride in their accomplishments individually and as part of a team.
As a child I was very competitive in sports; however, I rarely found myself on a winning team. In fact, the only first place team I played on was an underdog who fought to make the championship game and scored 10 runs in the last inning to win. That one small medal for first place, that I got in 4th grade, is still a beacon of pride for me almost three decades after winning it. It’s the only medal I have from my youth and it’s the only one I need. The lessons learned from that achievement left a mark on my character forever.
The path of least resistance
Some children and adults cry when they lose that last game of the year. There is nothing wrong with that. If you cry you are expressing an emotion. The losing cry can often mean that you are sad that your team did not win. You didn’t play your best, made a bad mistake, or just couldn’t compete physically with your opponent. When your child has that emotion, they are feeling. You as a parent needs to address it with them. The act of handing out participation medals takes away that experience for our youth and it eliminates any bad feeling you as an adult can have for your children. You as a parent or coach needs to experience that feeling and emotion too.
If you are playing, and they are keeping score, then play to win.
My post could easily be perceived as an over the top parent who only will accept first place in my childs life. That is false, but I do believe in competition and performing at the best of your ability. When I play softball with my daughters in the yard, we are playing for fun. We don’t keep score… we just play and practice our skills. But if they are going to keep score in the game… First place is the goal. If my daughter would have finished second or third I would have let her keep it as well. The only other medal/trophy I have from my childhood was a third place finish at an AAU basketball tournament in Fremont, Nebraska. I value it as much value as the first place medal.
If score was never kept in this world, your questionable next door neighbor might by the surgeon who is responsible for your life the next time you visit the hospital.
Put the money to better use.
Basketball at the YMCA costs $40 for eight games. Very reasonable and it makes quality experiences affordable for many people in Wichita. But to play you also have to purchase a jersey and put numbers on it… so you’re really at $55.
My wife pointed out to me tonight that not only is this years basketball participation medal larger and more elaborate than the first place medal my daughter and I have received… it surely costs more to produce. In a final blow and justification for throwing these dumb medals away… they just don’t need to be purchased. Do the families a favor and include the jersey in the registration fee… pay the referees more money so we can get better officiating… hell buy the coaches a massage session as a gift for all the stress the young kids put on them 🙂 Please quit paying for these excessive medals. The one on the left has done far more for me in my life than the one on the right that is in the Wichita dump. And probably cost 50% less to produce.
This decision is not meant to punish, hurt, or make my children or my fellow 63Games players cry… but rather, to build character and reward the best of the best for their hard work and practice that was put in to achieve the top. Let’s keep sports pure and simple. Let’s focus on what’s important. And let’s learn a thing or two along the way!