A professional football player made news recently when he announced that he would make his 8- and 6-year-old sons return the “participation” trophies they were awarded because they hadn’t “earned” them. I disagree with that philosophy.
At what point is something “earned?” Should acknowledgment only be given when no one else in the whole world is better at what you’ve done than you are? After all, just because someone was the best at what they did in their league, doesn’t mean there isn’t someone else somewhere else who can do it better.
By the way, if someone has a natural, God-given gift for doing something better than others, did that person “earn” that ability? There can be satisfaction in achieving something you have worked hard for. However, the notion that by working as hard as you can you will reap all of the rewards is sometimes a false lesson.
How many times have people worked their hardest to achieve something worthwhile only to have someone else take all the glory? It happens. Life isn’t always fair and grinding our children into a nub in the name of building character is not a cut-and-dried formula for success. Perhaps it is best to simply work hard for the self-satisfaction of achieving your own goals.
Meanwhile, if the professional football player’s sons participated in the team’s activities, and the team chose to acknowledge the participation of each team member with a trophy, then the boys “earned” the trophy.