You Don’t Deserve a Participation Trophy


Written by: Alyssa Tyler, Editor-in-Chief

According to, 43% of Americans think that participation trophies are a good idea. Trophies should only be awarded to those who have won, who have put hours of dedication and work into what they do. By giving everyone a trophy, it is taking away the desire to get better. And it causes people to think that they can ‘win’ by just showing up. There are multiple ways that someone can win something. but ‘someone trying their hardest’ shouldn’t be one. 

Participation trophies are typically 5 inches of cheap plastic, but the reasoning behind them is called the overjustification effect. According to, there are two types of motivations that guide a person to do certain tasks. Extrinsic motivation can be found in people doing something to get some type of reward. While intrinsic motivation is typically focused on how that person can improve themselves. Extrinsic motivation does not always work after the reward is exhausted, more often than not the person is less motivated after ‘winning’ the same thing over and over again. The person will not perform the task as well as they should. Compared to someone motivated by intrinsic motivation, where they want to get better for themselves, or for the people around them. 

In a study done by Yale professor, Amy Wrzesniewski, she found that West Point Academy students who were mainly motivated by intrinsic ideas were more likely to graduate, receive promotions and stay in the military. This study shows that people who want to make themselves better, end up achieving more. 

One of the main arguments against participation trophies is that it does not allow people to recognize and accept failure. For example, if a soccer team places fourth in a tournament, they should not get a trophy for just showing up. They didn’t do something that the winning team did.  And from losing, the team should go back and reflect on how they can get better and improve. 

Not only does giving them a trophy for something they do not deserve implement poor habits of “oh, well that was good enough, I don’t need to try any harder.” It also takes away the achievement of what the team that won did. It takes away how much time and effort that the team put in to be the best version of themselves. 

Just because someone showed up to practice every day, doesn’t mean that they did everything that they could have. Showing up is not the same thing as putting work in to succeed. And those two ideas are constantly being interchanged. Participation trophies are not helping the younger generations. They are only helping set them up for failure. 

Overall, the world is a harsh place. Someones best won’t always be good enough. People will fail. And they should not get a trophy just because they showed up and ‘gave it their all.’ By giving a false idea that just trying is good enough, being average, giving mediocre effort, is damaging to people who will get hit in the face with what the real world is like.