I read an article All Is Not Fair by Karin Fuller on familycircle.com in 2011. The reason why I feel the need to discuss this now, in 2017, is I feel that it is still important in our world today. It is definitely something, we as parents, need to consider or think about when having our child play sports or any other event that requires a competition or a “win/lose” situation. Let’s think about this:
“Are we so obsessed with fairness that we raise children to believe everyone should be treated the same, regardless of their effort?”
This is a statement from the above article that proceeds to discuss sports and the award ceremonies that go along with the “game.” Is it fair that every child on the team will receive a trophy regardless of their effort and regardless of how good they played? The article discusses the fairness of awards and what are we actually teaching our children.
This article has made me think about all of the “fairness” beliefs that some parents today may feel about sports and all the other activities their children are involved in each day. I do believe that these types of awards are given to ALL children who are just “involved” in the sport, or other activity such as in those in schools, or dance classes/recitals, or gymnastics, etc.
Many, many years ago, we only received awards when we deserved them. We had to work hard and know that our hard work will be rewarded in one way or another. We did not get recognized for anything other than what we needed to be recognized for and those things we actually deserved.
Today, what message are we sending our kids if they get an award for just participating? For just “showing up.” What happened to pushing to achieve an award for hard work, effort, compromise, teamwork? Don’t we need to challenge our children? Don’t we need to let them know how to win in life and how to lose? Don’t we need to teach them disappointment? Learning from errors or mistakes? Learning from not pushing ourselves and putting forth as little effort as possible and the consequences of those actions?
I remember when my son played sports. He didn’t really “love” it. It was just something his father loved and thought he would love too. It was something they could do together, but he didn’t push himself. He participated, played the game, and passed the time. Other boys who pushed themselves, got hurt, practiced day in and day out, who really wanted to win, they worked as a team, and then got their awards at the end of the season at a ceremony…and so did my son. Wait, what? Why was he getting an award? He didn’t push himself as hard as he could. He didn’t do what those other boys were doing. Why?
It questioned the purpose of playing the sport. This also happened in Karate classes. They all got an award for participating. Why?
What message are we sending our children by giving them an award for no effort at all other than showing up or just playing the game because they were there. What happened to achieving success because you’re part of a winning team? What happened to working hard and then getting recognized for it?
What message do we want to send our children? Is it fair if the hard workers see the other “non” hard workers achieving an award for doing less? Is it fair to those who push themselves to be a part of the award of children who did not get hurt, who did not make every single practice (and then some), who did not care to win, who did not strive to be the best they can be? I think it is more unfair to those kids than to the kids who chose to not push themselves and work hard. Let them not get the award and make them think, “What do I need to do to get one?” “What did the MVP player do to get that award? What do I need to do better next time?” Instead of, “It’s ok, I’ll get an award for just showing up; I’ll get an award anyway!”
Let me hear your feelings about this and stories you may have with your children. You can disagree or agree, but tell me why you do. What experiences have you had with this? Looking forward to hearing from you.