Most kids will receive dozens of awards by the time they reach high school: trophies for competing in basketball tournaments, medals for playing on soccer teams, and ribbons for taking part in Little League. Instead of recognizing top performers, however, many sports programs have started awarding trophies to all athletes—regardless of their performance.
Some people say that giving every child a trophy encourages kids to keep playing—even when they’re not superstars. Research shows that sticking with team sports can have important benefits, including higher fitness levels, better grades, and improved self-esteem. Supporters also say that trophies are a great way to reward young athletes for their efforts.
But other people think that handing out all those medals sends the wrong message. In the real world, they argue, people aren’t rewarded simply for showing up. If players know they’ll get a trophy regardless of how they perform, there’s no incentive for them to work hard. Plus, opponents say, rewards lose their meaning when everyone gets one.
Should every player take home a trophy? Two experts weigh in.