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Author Topic: What happens when everyone's a winner?  (Read 946 times)

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Offline DawgTopic starter

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What happens when everyone's a winner?
« on: January 06, 2009, 11:17:07 AM »
Some ask whether feel-good trophies are actually good for children

When a youth basketball league in Framingham finishes its season next month, every fifth- and sixth-grader will receive a shiny trophy. Even those on the last-place team.

''We want them to be happy and come back to play the following year," said the Temple Beth Am Brotherhood league's director, Rich Steckloff.

In communities across Boston's western suburbs, at the end of long seasons on the soccer pitch, hoop court, or baseball diamond, kids are getting trophies not for winning championships, but for simply participating.

Some say there's no harm in awarding trophies to all, that it's a reward for playing a sport that keeps them fit. And it's hard to argue with the warm feeling a parent gets when their wide-eyed child receives a prize.

But others have raised questions about whether getting trophies so easily is the best thing for youngsters.

''There is something inherently good about trying to raise kids' feelings about themselves, but there has to be balance," said Leonard Zaichkowsky, a Boston University professor and director of its sport and exercise psychology training program, shared by BU's schools of education and medicine. ''We also have to teach kids to be mentally tough, to take criticism, to experience failure, to learn that somebody wins and somebody loses.

''We have to take teachable moments to reach kids and explain that there are going to be setbacks and losses, and to be able to cope with that," he said.

Roy Baumeister, a professor of psychology at Florida State University, said the trophy explosion was a product of the self-esteem movement, which began in the 1970s and gained momentum in the '80s with promises of more successful children. The movement started to unravel a decade later, when questions were raised about its results, said Baumeister, who has specialized in self-esteem issues.

Baumeister said feel-good trophies don't serve any purpose.

''The trophies should go to the winners. Self-esteem does not lead to success in life. Self-discipline and self-control do, and sports can help teach those," he said.

Full Article

Offline Aeval

Re: What happens when everyone's a winner?
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2009, 02:15:51 PM »
"Baumeister said feel-good trophies don't serve any purpose.

''The trophies should go to the winners. Self-esteem does not lead to success in life."


I beg to differ: to the child that lives in a household where unconditional positive regard and warmth and caring exists- yes..that child can and does have the capacity to understand self control and self discipline.
To the child growing up in a home where the adults are not parents and are too involved in their own selfish pleasures: drugs, alcohol, etc...these children need ALL the feel good trophies they can get because they are NOT going to get them from anyone that lives with them. My agency pays out over $20,000 a year to send children to camps, clubs, activities, music lessons etc. so they can DEVELOP a positive sense of self esteem so that just maybe..when someone comes arround and offers them drugs, alcohol, violence- they will have enough self esteem to say "NO"! and keep themselves out of the court system, hospitals and jail.
*getting down from my soap box..guess I am a little passionate about this.*

Offline DawgTopic starter

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Re: What happens when everyone's a winner?
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2009, 02:25:04 PM »
I agree with that completely and two of the charities I sit on the boards for do the same as far as sending kids to camp, for that very same reason.  But they still do not constitute all children and as you said in your post there are some out there that are better served by getting the self-control and self discipline.

But why should those children suffer by lumping all children into one category of nobody loses.  Walgreen world dictate that every child has a loving home and positive role models, but none of us live there as far as I know, and if you do the what the heck are you doing here.  So there are going to be some on both sides of the equation.  What I am saying is we need a way to help both sides without the detriment of the other so both get the maximum value they can.

Not easy and I offer no solutions, sorry not in the scope of this post or topic really, but that is the goal at least. 

Offline Will

Re: What happens when everyone's a winner?
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2009, 02:47:17 PM »
Ack... I really don't like getting involved in this stuff, but I'm gonna say this.

I find it hard to believe that whether or not they get a trophy for losing and/or winning is the major factor in their lives.  The way they're interacted with by the coach on the team, I think, is much more important, and that's basically it.  How are they handled by the adults in their lives?  Trophies don't teach you anything, grown-ups do.

Now, that said, I don't agree with giving everybody trophies, just like I don't agree with giving everyone equal playing time.  For goodness' sake, the parents should help them find something they're good at.

Offline DawgTopic starter

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Re: What happens when everyone's a winner?
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2009, 02:58:36 PM »
Well the equal playing time I completely agree with up to a certain age.  Children develop at different speeds and if you have one bad coach in a little league, and I have come across a few, who only want their team to win at that age instead of develop athletic as well as social skills.  They are going to only allow the players that they see as able to help them win.  While the late bloomer who may end up being ten times better in a couple years is benched and their confidence and self esteem decimated.

Another good thing to do as a little league (talking all sports here BTW), have unsolicited drafts every year.  A coach gets to choose a certain number of kids (their child and say three others), but the rest of the teams is assigned to them.  That means that each year certain teams are not overly stocked.  So the superstar reams of one year are not the same the following years, unless all the kids across the league are taught the skills.

Again, as Will said, it comes down to the parent coach believing in all kids need to excel.  That works up to around age twelve, after that is when teams start to become competative in the true sense of the word and stick together as a core unit through graduation.

Online Captain Maltese

Re: What happens when everyone's a winner?
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2009, 07:20:28 AM »
Around here, for most children's sports and even some adult ones like military reenactments, all participants get a participant medal or pin or similar. It's as good a trophy as anything.

Offline Moondazed

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Re: What happens when everyone's a winner?
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2009, 08:08:10 AM »
In his book, The Optimistic Child, Martin Seligman makes the point that kids who are given empty praise don't learn when they've actually excelled and when they're just being stroked, so they're ability to develop self-esteem is stunted.  I think he makes a very valid point.  He also talks about praising your child specifically instead of making broad statements like, "You're a good kid.", or, "You're smart.", so that they get a clear understanding of where they've succeeded and where they need more work.

I completely agree that some kids have parents who don't have a clue about how to encourage the development of self-esteem so they can use all of the positive reinforcement they can get, but I also think that the self-esteem movement, among other things, has created more angst-ridden, self-doubting, unhappy people than it's helped.  I could be biased and I make no claim that I'm an expert :)  Dawg has a point that sports should be about development until kids are older, although I'd say the age is more like 14 (freshman age), so I don't think that winning should be a big deal until things reach that level.  My husband coached my son's soccer team for three years and I was sorely disappointed by how many parents focused on winning alone, and the kids were only 8-11 years old :(  They all got a trophy (which my now-18 year old son could care less about and actually gave to his little brother).  My concern is that the cost of the trophies meant that the program ran right to the wire every session.  We live in rural Virginia so there aren't a plethora of sponsors around :)

Sorry to wander around the point of the thread, but I thought it was relevant :)

Offline DawgTopic starter

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Re: What happens when everyone's a winner?
« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2009, 08:32:03 AM »
In the Premier Soccer club we run, the kids start at 6 years old in an Academy atmosphere which is strictly development.  They play games and compete against other clubs, but no score is recorded.  At age 10 they start to keep score and develop into a team mentality and then at twelve start to learn the difference between winning and losing, but winning is not stressed.

Age 14 is where they enter true competition and start traveling out of state to compete in Regional and if they win there National competition, but still winning is not the end all.  In fact if a team at that level is so good that they are beating all competition at their level we make a move to have them play up and compete against older teams.

This philosophy produced the first team to ever take U18 and then the following year U19 back to back National Championships.  That team didn't begin to win consistently until about U16 and from there they excelled in all national tournaments they entered.  Two of the girls on the team won personal National trophies (Golden Glove and Golden Shoe and at 19 years old both were entered into the Soccer Hall of Fame).

The Club Results, in the last 7 years:

    * 3 girls State Cup championships
    * 1 Boys state cup championships
    * 2 Region II Championship
    * 2 USYSA National Championship
    * 1 Midwest Regional Premier League title
    * Numerous State Cup quarter and semi finalist appearances
    * Over 40 players committed to play NCAA Collegiate soccer between 2006 and 2008.


The key was that winning was not stressed until much later, after they learned fundamentals, courtesy on the pitch, conditioning and all the elements of the game.  Then when things counted later on they excelled.  All of the girls on the team were recruited and now play College soccer most with significant scholarships.

Offline Mudchaser

Re: What happens when everyone's a winner?
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2009, 03:42:59 AM »
I have never beaten my father at chess.  I believe I played him to a standstill once, but I've never beaten him.

When I got older, he later told me, almost apologetically, that he never "let me" win because he felt it was disrespectful.  I agreed with him, as I felt I learned more by struggling to climb the enormous mountain of his skill than I ever did trashing one of my buddies at school.

Kids know the difference between a pat on the head and someone assuring them that they're every bit as good as the kid who hits homers with every swing of the bat, and a genuine victory.  The kid who lost but gets a fake trophy knows his victory is hollow, and the kid who won but gets the same trophy as the loser knows that he's being cheated out of his proper acclaim.  Humans are heirarchial creatures, keenly aware of status, and you can see this all the way down to childhood behavior, where a group of kids will brag and posture and create mini-heirarchies.  As adults, we're uncomfortable watching our adorable, sweet baby suffer the sting of rejection, so we make those little trophies not for them, but for ourselves.  We want to love, want to give our children everything possible, make them happy constantly, but sometimes, they just have to swallow bitter medicine and grow up.  That's the hardest thing in the world for a (loving) parent to do.

That's my take on the matter, anyway, but I've come from a remarkably stable home, so that might skew my perspective, I dunno.

Offline Zeitgeist

Re: What happens when everyone's a winner?
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2009, 09:03:21 PM »
I have never beaten my father at chess.  I believe I played him to a standstill once, but I've never beaten him.

When I got older, he later told me, almost apologetically, that he never "let me" win because he felt it was disrespectful.  I agreed with him, as I felt I learned more by struggling to climb the enormous mountain of his skill than I ever did trashing one of my buddies at school.


Wonderful story about dad and chess. I did the same with my son. When he did beat me, there was an instant light in his face, and he knew very well that was the first time. He remembers it to this day.

You only do harm by treating them with 'kid gloves' (within reason of course!). The hard, cruel world out there will not be gentle nor kind with him or her.

You don't get to take that same job interview over and over again until you get the job.