American society today is so afraid of making people (kids) feel excluded that many events, sports, and competitions have allotted participation prizes for those who are unable to take home first place in whatever it is they are competing for. Granted, kids shouldn’t be taught to be extremely over-competitive at everything they do or to be sore losers, but whatever happened to the days of kids being rewarded for actually achieving something rather than just showing up and participating? And, we aren’t talking about a bunch of four or five-year-olds playing tee-ball or running around on a soccer field. We are talking about kids between the ages of 7-12 who are now actually playing competitive sports and everything isn’t an introduction to competition.
Kids obviously shouldn’t feel ashamed of themselves whenever they lose at something, but rather, losing should force them to strive to be better. The whole idea of “let’s reward this kid for simply showing up” seems a bit outrageous when you consider the fact that the child or team who showed up and won the competition isn’t getting any different reward or recognition for their accomplishments than the child who failed to do so. If anything, a person who grows up accepting defeat and never pushes themselves in order to achieve victory/success will not have as strong of a work ethic as a child who always strives for success and has the will to always improve at everything they do. Pittsburgh Steelers running back D’Angelo Williams apparently feels this way as well, as Williams tweeted out this picture of his daughter’s field day ribbons, saying that he gave back his daughter’s participation ribbons to her teacher.
I took her Field Day participation ribbon gave it back to her teacher…then in the next event she got 1st place pic.twitter.com/SUusZsjjYW
— DeAngelo Williams (@DeAngeloRB) May 12, 2016
Granted, youth sports and athletics, in general, are full of crazed parents who are delusional to the point where they actually believe their kid is going to the show when they grow up. Not all parents who watch their kids on the baseball diamond or soccer field every Saturday morning are like that, but every team no matter the sport has that one psychotic mother or father who will not stop shadowing over the coach, or yell from the sidelines at their kid (or other kids) to hustle. D’Angelo Williams understands what it means to have to bust your tail, go through the process of recruitment, perform to the point where professional teams develop an interest in you, deal with being let go from an organization after a long career, and work hard enough to get back onto the gridiron with another organization. Making it to the NFL and winning a participation ribbon at your school’s field day are different animals of incredible proportions, but the idea of not accepting defeat and having to go out and earn everything you get is the message that Williams is trying to display here. Hard to knock him on that.