I was cleaning out some boxes in the basement last week, and I came across a box filled with youth league trophies — cheap, inexpensive plastic trophies that my kids got when they played youth sports.
You know what I’m talking about. Every kid who signs up for a team gets a trophy at the season-ending team party – regardless if they played well, played hard, or for that matter, even showed up to play at all. So when I asked on the radio show on Sunday whether or not these trophies had somehow lost their impact, I wasn’t surprised by the response: for the most part, the callers felt that while the kids expected to get a trophy, the truth is, by the time they got home with their trophy, it was immediately put on a shelf and forgotten about. In short, it had no meaning to the youngster because they had done nothing to earn it.
Several callers pointed out that only those trophies or plaques that mean anything to a kid are those in which the youngster has truly earned the honor. Only then it really means something to the young athlete, and it becomes a memento of pride. But when everybody gets a trophy, it just doesn’t mean much.
Am I suggesting that perhaps the time has come to do away with youth league trophies? Well, maybe. It seems to me there has to be a better way to salute a kid’s efforts and performance – -and to do it in a way that has real significance to the athlete. What do you think?