Trophies and Motivation

How do trophies motivate us? Should we give trophies to our children, or are we only encouraging competition?

How do trophies motivate us? is there a link between trophies and motivation? Should we give trophies to our children, or are we only encouraging competition? The trophy debate has been around almost as long as trophies have themselves. Now awards and trophies are mainly associated with sports. But in the past, they were given to warriors and meant more than just ‘well done’.

Awards and Trophies: A Brief History

The history of trophies and awards can be traced back to ancient Greece, when warriors created their own trophies from captured standards and arms. If there was a naval victory, a ‘trophy’ could be an entire fleet of ships – or the remains of the ships – laid out across the beach. In fact, the word ‘trophy’ comes from the Latin word, ‘trophaeum’, which means ‘monument to victory.’ And the trophies of the past were no more than that – victory monuments. The ancient Romans built their own stone trophies, carving stone and placing their trophies on magnificent stone memorials. After their age passed, however, trophies began to be less about a victory in battle or a historical marker, and more about sports. In the Middle Ages, knights were given chalices or prizes for their victories in one of the many popular sporting events of the time. As the awards became more sophisticated, they also became very popular in sports such as horse racing and, as the years passed by, automobile racing. Now, trophies are used in almost every sport, and help encourage our players and give them something to strive for.

Competition and Motivation

Over the years, a debate has raged on about how trophies affect our sports players. True, they’re motivating, but what about the competition factor? On the one hand, you can’t have sports without competition. On the other hand, is a trophy encouraging an unhealthy amount of competition? Sports should be fun, even if you don’t get an award! While this may not be such a crucial debate in major league sports, it’s definitely a controversial one when it comes to the minor leagues. How much do we want our children to compete? People are worried that awards do more harm than good. Should we encourage or discourage trophies?

It’s hard to strike a balance, but when people go against trophies, they’re missing a crucial part of any sport. What would a game look like if there was no winner and no loser? If neither team or individual ever could win? First, the entire point of the game is gone. Games – from sports to strategy games – are meant to challenge us. When a trophy is introduced, it just raises the stakes, and we challenge ourselves more. Just like real life, there are winners and losers in sports. A trophy both rewards the winners and encourages the losers to try harder and to challenge themselves more.

Why Do We Give Trophies?

Do we give trophies to unite kids and motivate them or to divide kids and make them compete? The answer is both. Especially in team sports, kids work together for a common goal: to win. Believe it or not, it’s easier to make friends with someone you play against on the field than someone you have a passing acquaintance with in school. But a trophy also lets kids compete and then be rewarded if they do a good job. Trophies prepare children for the world that they’ll enter as soon as they grow older. They encourage dedication and commitment. The next time you see a sports team win – or lose – think about trophies and how they’re encouraging our kids.

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