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Local Sports

June 27, 2013

Fightin' Words: Trophies are earned, not given

CHICKASHA —

The recent decision by Chickasha Little League to scrap participation trophies from their end of season routine has subsequently opened up a debate commonly heard across the recreational sports fields and courts of America.

The question surrounds the idea of rewarding a young, impressionable athlete for simply taking part in a sport and continuing through the season. It's something Little League President Bruce McGrew said he did not want to get into when I spoke to him, which is understandable given the decision was made for budgetary reasons.

And while the arguments parents made in favor of such trophies as the Facebook comments piled up are valid, I certainly don't agree with them.

I was once one of these kids, growing up on the town soccer fields as I played with my schoolmates from a small Texas town. Seeing as my team between ages 7 and 11 was from a town of 900, we understandably had little success in our league. Nevertheless, I always found myself with a trophy to put on top of my bookshelf at the end of each fall and spring. Honestly, I never really thought of them as anything more than a benchmark of time. With this, I knew the season was over an another was on the way.

As I grew older and my classmates went onto sports more suitable to a small town, like football, basketball and baseball, I stuck with it and was fortunate enough to end up on a very good team with kids living in a bigger city nearby. Soon, the trophies I received at the end of the season were not simply for participating. They were emblems of the hard work I put in twice a week at training and every weekend during games. 

They weren't always bigger than my participation trophies of the past. But they meant more, and I soon began replacing trophies I had been given before with ones I had earned now. I vividly remember thinking of the participation trophies as a 12-year-old "What did I get this for?"

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