I went to my daughters’ swim class this week. I was so proud to see my 5- and 3-year-olds learn to swim. It was a great night.
Then…they gave my daughters participation ribbons. Really? An award for participation? I agree that every child should be commended for participating in a sport, but to get an award for trying it out isn’t exactly commendable. NOBODY should get a participation ribbon for trying out a sport. I didn’t.
I grew up in a big family that loved sports. My brothers and sister were great athletes. I wanted so much to be like them. I wrestled my butt off to impress them, but I never placed in the top three. Therefore, I never got an award. I cried and cried when I lost, hoping that someday I would get that medal or ribbon, but it made me want to do better and work harder because someday I would win that medal. And I did. GOLD!!!!! Persistence, determination, and patience are why I became a champion. It wasn’t easy. But if I would have gotten “participation ribbons” when I was younger, I probably would have been content and I would have never fought so hard to be the best. As a parent, it is my responsibility to make sure my kids learn how to win and learn how to lose or FAIL.
I’ve heard this before — “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” UNTRUE. Sure, you should be proud of your hard work, but an award for losing doesn’t equip you for the real world. It’s not how this world works. You may not agree, but I can tell you from experience that participation awards would have “killed” my desire to be the best in the world. I will not do that to my children. They will learn how to win and lose graciously, but they will only get an award for placing 1st, 2nd or 3rd, and they will learn the importance of sport. Being “politically correct” doesn’t fly in my family. If you agree, that’s great. If you don’t agree, come see me in 15 years and tell me how your theory worked to build your child into a champion.
I’ve never said sports were the most important thing, but what sports have done for me is an incredible blessing. It has taught me not to give up on anything, including school. Yes, I’m a college grad due to sports. I never would have went to college if it weren’t for sports. It DOES help in so many ways. So if you have youngsters, think about their future before you allow them to receive awards for trying out a sport. You’re responsible for how they evolve and grow. I thank God that my family wouldn’t allow me to have an award for participation. Because of their decisions, I am a champion. It’s true!