Participation Trophies and Awards

One of the ongoing discussions in youth sports involves the matter of trophies and awards for participation.

One of the ongoing discussions in youth sports involves the matter of participation trophies and awards – trophies awarded for participation in a sport or event. There are valid arguments for each side of the issue as this blog post from Sports Signup reveals. Which side of the debate do you find yourself on? Perhaps you will read something that will sway your feelings one way or another.

Many coaches and parents feel that children should not receive awards at the end of the season simply for showing up to the games and practices. Those sorts of rewards should be reserved for those kids who make extraordinary contributions to the team. In their eyes, handing out awards for participation cheapens the contributions of those kids who go above and beyond.

Trophies and Awards Aren’t Harmful

On the other side of the debate are the parents and coaches who feel that such participation awards and trophies are not harmful in any way. Their argument is that they encourage young players to feel like they are part of a team. This can be just the push that a reluctant child needs to try a new sport or to show up for practices each day. Other types of trophies and awards can be handed out to those players who made a big contribution to the team as well.

Cup Trophy

In this blog post on the Outside the Lines website, opposing views on the hotly debated topic of automatic sports trophies and awards that are received

by a child simply for participating are presented. Where do you stand on the topic? Do you see validity in both sides of the argument?


This article debates a question that often plagues coaches, particularly when it comes to games with younger children who might be experiencing team sports for the first time. Should all children receive trophies and awards is the question that sparks a great deal of debate. Read it and decide for yourself.


Personally, I think there is a place for Participation Awards – it’s not an All or Nothing argument. Youth athletes, particularly those just starting in a sport, should be encouraged and rewarded for going to practice and at least making an effort. And they should be encouraged to play and act like a team – Isn’t that what team sports are all about? And if the team wins or fails, they do so together, and giving them a pat on the back with a participation trophy for giving it their best is very appropriate.

As they get older, and they recognize that trophies are special and need to be earned by trying harder and being better, then participation trophies should give way to championship trophies and individual awards for MVP, most improved, etc. We should give kids some credit – they do know the difference. But even when they are older, participation trophies are very appropriate for division, regional, and state tournaments. Just making it to the “next level” is well worth recognizing.