Not to sound like an old fogy here, but back in my day we played little league or other sports and competed for a prize at the end. Truth of the matter is, most of us just wanted the snow cone that every player got after the game, but to some the competition actually mattered too.
Whether we played for the exercise, the pure thrill of the game or for imposing our skill and will on the opponent, we all understood there would be winners and there would be losers.
For the winners, they get the trophy, the recognition, possibly an all-star selection (although that’s another topic for another day) and the snow cone.
For the losers, condolences, “better luck next time”, “you almost had em”, and the snow cone.
This system works, I, and many other adults my age grew up under a system terribly similar to this. Simply, somebody wins and somebody loses. I dare say none of us were damaged from the experience. In fact, I think as kids we learned lessons that we didn’t even realize we were learning at the time which benefited us then and still does today.
• Not everyone wins.
• To win, you have to out-perform your competition.
• Just because you won once, doesn’t mean you will always win. Staying on top is hard.
• Winning is difficult but better than losing and therefore worth the extra effort.
Those lessons are real and will be learned sooner or later. I am not arguing that handing out trophies to all participants is somehow “damaging” kids. All I am saying is, what was wrong with the old system, the one with winners and losers? Was it so damaging to the psyche of kids that we needed this new, watered down, crackerjack system where everybody gets a prize just for showing up? I don’t think so!
Leagues or organizations who decide to change the rules so that everyone is a “winner” don’t realize that by doing so they make sure there are no winners. Kids who might otherwise be winners may chose the path of least resistance if you take away the possibility of recognition. In other words, if I don’t get a trophy for winning, why would I try so hard to win? Why would I practice more than the other kids? Why would I give it 110%? I’m just going to be rewarded with the same old trophy as every other kid who shows up.
Let the kids WIN! But be prepared for the awful results…there will be LOSERS, in little leagues just as in life.