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Letter from the Editor—The other side of the ‘trophy’ debate


Prince Frederick, MD - It’s a bandwagon I should want to jump on! The people decrying the ‘everybody gets a trophy’ culture are speaking my language. When I was a lad, I never got any patches and medals when I was sent to camp. I didn’t get a lot of gold stars on homework and test papers—not even in grade school. Participation trophy for being on a baseball team? It didn’t happen. I even had to “work” if I wanted my weekly allowance. Life as a kid in the 1950s and 60s stunk, from my perspective. Oh, it wasn’t all bad, but looking back—where are my trophies?

Now that I’ve gotten that rant out of my system, let’s take a closer, impartial, quasi-rational look at the “everybody gets a trophy” issue. The main culprit seems to be sports for the smaller kids. Maybe a trophy is overkill. I believe the main purpose behind “t-ball” is to fuel an enthusiasm for a particular sport. Baseball is not a game small children universally embrace. The fundamentals should be taught and if the child derives enjoyment then raise the stakes as they get older. A love of this great game doesn’t always get a knuckleball-grip on an individual until his or her mind expands. When that happens the cerebral aspect of the game—the strategy, the effectiveness of teamwork, patience at the plate and the understanding that it is really a game of failure and perseverance—will establish that enthusiasm. We should appreciate the efforts of the volunteer coaches and umpires. To hand out a souvenir to mark that participation is a decent way to say “we hope you’ll continue.”

Far be it from me to tell parents how to raise their young, but if you want to get a child interested in athletics a better start might be running or even walking. It seems every weekend some organization is having a 5 kilometer race. Runners do not verbally berate their opponents during the competition—they would waste too much needed energy if they did that. There are no parents on the sidelines giving the coaches, officials and kids a hard time, either. In fact if the parent has any brains, they are participating, too. There are participants of both genders and of all ages involved. In all likelihood, the race is to raise money for a good cause. And no, everybody DOESN’T get a trophy. There is usually a limited supply of medals to award to the high achievers. There is no crying in running—unless you pull calf muscle. Your feet are too sore to cry. There is also a zero tolerance for cheating. Think of it this way, running or walking long distances improves your stamina, which in turn will improve your performance in other sports, which require stamina.

As far as the “everybody gets a trophy” mentality in schools—society kind of asked for that one when we decided “everybody gets a diploma.” Once you’re done with school and if you haven’t done anything to truly merit a diploma then hope and pray that our society embraces an “everybody gets a job” mindset.

Kids, stay in school and have a good run!

That’s all I have to say. Now, where’s my Pulitzer Prize?

Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of TheBayNet.com’s management.

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com

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