Participation Trophies and Perfect Attendance

I just read in my Twitter feed, “In real life no one gets participation trophies.” It made me think about a current or former NFL football player who wouldn’t let his son have a participation trophy, because trophies are for winners.

My mind continued to wander to a friend of mine who I used to give a hard time to, because she was so proud of her perfect attendance awards that she received from kindergarten all the way through high school.

I teased her because I thought it was silly to be proud of an award for perfect attendance. Who cares?

If you asked me a couple of years ago what I thought about participation trophies, my response would have also been, who cares?

Fast forward to my reaction to whether or not in real life do people get participation trophies, and my response when I saw it. Why not?

There is a quote that goes something like, “80% of life is showing up.”

I think that number is low, but ultimately the most important thing someone can do is show up. I would add a caveat to what it means to show up. It’s not about just being present physically.

Showing up is about being present physically, emotionally and spiritually. It’s about active participation and active learning.

Tonight, I was doing one of my favorite things. Coaching.

Our team was up 12-3 through four innings. They were “locked in.” As they came up to bat in the 5th the heart of our line up was at the plate. Add a few more runs and stop the other team in the bottom and we win by the mercy rule.

Our first batter, one of the most gifted athletes I know gets on base. One of our long ball hitters goes down on a few ugly pitches. Next guy walks. Next guy comes to the plate showboating and he goes down swinging, leaves the field and throws his bat prompting Mom to step in. I then observed what was going on, on the bench.

No one was watching as we got our third out still in the heart of the lineup that had scored 9 of the 12 runs. I walked over and before I let the boys take the field I told them that they needed to get their focus back.

They followed up my request by playing their worst inning in the field all season. 10 runs score and now their down by one. The middle of the order manages to score a single run to tie the game, but instead of a double steal on a passed ball the runners weren’t paying attention leaving a force out to end the inning.

The other team managed to get one across in the bottom of the last inning to win 14-13.

So yes, I think participation trophies are okay. As long as its active participation. We can’t afford to just show up, because if we aren’t focused when we are there everything and everyone will pass us by.

In real life we might not get an actual trophy for participation, but we are surely not going to get rewarded if we don’t show up at all.

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