FREEHOLD, NJ – Why should everyone get a trophy? This is a question that most Baby Boomers and realists ask every time we hear a story regarding the kids sports leagues.
While this issue may seem innocuous to many, I believe it must put in perspective. Winners get the hardware and losers must get back to work! Our children and their children’s well being depends on an adjustment of philosophy regarding youth sports. When I was a kid in suburban New Jersey, there were no free passes. The older kids would kick your ass for fun and if you whined about it, you would get a double dose next time! Football was played on turf, dirt or pavement for fun. If you didn’t come home with bruises, cuts and raspberries, you were not playing hard enough. We walked to school if it was two miles or less. No bus stopping at every house. The only trophies were stitches and black eyes. Hockey was played without helmets, shoulder or rib pads. (Maybe that’s my problem). If you were well off, you may have had some knee pads. We made fires to keep warm while playing all day on a frozen swamp in the woods. We fought and got over it before we walked home. We had each other’s back against any gang from other blocks or neighborhoods. No awards, just respect. Participation awards did not exist.
I coached recreation and travel sports for years. I made sure that there was a yearly meeting to discuss the objectives. In rec, it was about letting kids learn about sports, teamwork and having some fun. It was more fun when the team was winning. No shame in success. Right?
Travel teams were formed to seek out tougher competition that elevated a kids competitive spirit and skill level. The goal was to win. The best kids got more playing time. Fair? You betcha. Life throws lots of curve balls at us. If you want to get on the field more, work harder. If your school grades were not A’s and B’s you were not playing until you improved them. Grinding Ax Rules. Did every team get a trophy? No way! The kids learned that if you were one the two lower teams in your division, you got dropped to a lower level the next season. If you finished first or second, you advanced to a higher level. Kids made lifelong friends and learned that the gold goes to the best teams.
I hear some younger guys that are new to coaching discussing the trophy issues. Most parents today think everyone should play the same amount of time and get a trophy, win or lose. Herein lies the problem. They are obviously new to competition. The same parents bitch about playing in the rain and even object to coaches telling it like it is. Many parents have never played any sport , therefore they relate to what they know. Everyone should get a trophy regardless of their effort or results.
Hey, that may be the answer in professional sports as well! Think about it. Philadelphia Eagles can raise a trophy. Browns fans can celebrate a season well played, win or lose! Hell, even Canada could raise a Stanley Cup again!
Chime in all you apologists!
Come back tomorrow when our version of Uncle Sam ( or is it Son of Sam) Cheese E. Bruin spells out the meaning of sports and fireworks.