You know the drill: At youth tournaments, there are row upon rows of trophies, medals, etc. for everyone. Not just the members of the team that won, but EVERYONE. Because we want all the players to feel valued and to get a reward just for participating.
Pittsburgh Steeler’s linebacker James Harrison famously railed against participation trophies, going as far as taking away his kids’ awards, saying he wanted them to earn their trophies.
And now, add Louisville women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz to the list of those who want more of an effort from his players than just showing up. Earlier this season, after a particularly poor showing (his opinion) by his team in a basketball, game, Coach Walz blasted the “participation trophy” mentality of players.
“We just live right now in a generation of kids that are coming through, everybody gets a damn trophy,” he said. “You finish last, you come home with a trophy. Are you kidding me? What’s that teaching kids? It’s OK to lose.”
Walz went on to say that “it’s not just in basketball, but in life. Everybody thinks they should get a job Everybody thinks they should get a good job. That’s not the way it works, but unfortunately, that’s what we are preparing for. Because you finish fifth, you walk home with this nice trophy, parents are all excited. Not to be too blunt, but you’re a loser.
“Unfortunately, the way these kids are brought up today, there is a trophy. Because nobody wants anybody to have hard feelings. Nobody wants to get their feelings hurt. And I’m trying to explain to our kids that hey, I’m trying to prepare you for the real world. Because when you go to get a job, there’s competition. And what are you going to do, to stand out?
“When you play 3-4 AAU games in one day, you lose three of them and then you win the last one, everybody goes home happy. You’re 1 and 3. I know it’s a long time ago, but the days when we played, when you lost, you went home. There was no friendship bracket. You went home a loser. And then you worked at it if you wanted to be good.”
Many in the sports tourism business work with tournaments and teams that award participation trophies to their players. Many organizers think kids won’t show up without the guarantee of more than one game and a trophy. Coach Walz thinks that’s teaching kids the wrong lesson.
See Coach Walz’s clip here: http://www.espn.com/espnw/video/18191955/louisville-coach-rants-participation-trophies