Irvington NJ (Storch Report) — Every kid that signs up for some sporting activity today but doesn’t necessarily show up gets a trophy and in many ‘competitive’ events in which they participate, or not, there are no scores therefore there are no winners or losers.
It is no longer a question of making the team, you just have to sign up and you made the team, and if you show up for the event in which you play, whether good or bad, you get to play. Really, what difference does it make, there is no score in many of these activities anyway, so no one can ask you whether you won or lost.
And where there are scores in these athletic competitions, there are trophies for 17th place.
There are no lessons learned, only psychological impairment with the message of entitlement to kids at an early age by telling them and rewarding them that they are better than they are.
Eventually there is a wake up call, but it comes too late because they already believe they are achievers and winners and they can point to the trophies in their bedroom, or trophy case.
HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel recently returned with new features and Bernard Goldberg did a piece on this subject and how this trend potentially leads to damaging psychological effects.
Apparently there was an event outside of Tampa, Fl with 650 kids in attendance for something called i9 sports, which claims to be the largest youth sports franchise in the nation.
All received trophies. There is a division champion award and everyone else receives an “All-Star” trophy, both prizes are the same size. The president of i9 Sports said, “We want to make each child feel special.”
In Los Angeles, according to Real Sports, Janet Anderson, the commissioner for AYSO Soccer representing 1,200 under eight players said, “If there name is on the roster, they get a trophy.”
The trophy industry now has sales around $2 Billion at the retail level. JDS Industries is one of the world’s largest trophy wholesalers. Scott Sletten said his parents started the South Dakota business in 1972 and the mom and pop shop had sales of $20,000 to $40,000 a year. JDS now has sales of over $50 million.
According to the report, this culture arises out of a movement beginning in the late 20th Century to push the importance of self-esteem in education.
It has spiraled out of control leading to problems in college. A study highlighted in Goldberg’s report shows that a third of college students say they deserve a B grade as long as they attend most classes in a course.
Dr. Robert Cloninger, professor of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine concludes that children won’t be able to succeed if we pretend that they don’t fail.
The trophy at the top of this column is circa 1946 — it is mine. It is 4 and 3/4 inches high and one inch wide. It appears to me to be cast in brass with a plastic base and as you will note there is no inscription on plaque below the baseball player with a bat in his hands. I received this for playing on a baseball team called the Cubs in the Irvington NJ Midget League — we came in first in the league. There was no Little League in those days, nor much money to inscribe the plaque. There were no other trophies given other than first place.
I was about 7-years-old at the time. I played on the team, not all did. We knew what it meant to make the team. Getting a uniform was something special. We knew what a win was and what a loss meant.
We didn’t hold our heads up high with a loss, but we did when we won. That little trophy is with me today, and it has traveled with me with each move, after all it wasn’t very large, I took the picture you see and it is more meaningful than anything that came along thereafter.
I went on to become an all-state third baseman in high school, had tryouts with the New York Yankees, Brooklyn Dodgers and Boston Braves. Was scouted by the Detroit Tigers, Cincinnati Reds and Baltimore Orioles, played college, Navy and Semi-Pro baseball. I never played professional baseball, but had the privilege to play with and against some of the greats of that time that made the show.
I was no different than any other little kid with a dream to play baseball in those days or now.
However, the lessons I learned playing the game applied to every aspect of my life thereafter and it segued into the importance of team play, knowing what it is to win and loose and to handle both gracefully, how to compete, how to compete to win, and knowing that I was not entitled to anything in life unless I earned it.
The concept of the trophy culture being fostered by educators, parents and society in general today is providing the next generation for an expectation of entitlement but not an education in reality.