Is it just me, or do participation trophies seem to be given out more than they use to? Sometimes it feels like just signing up for something and showing up is enough to qualify you for one of these awards.

Don't get me wrong, it's great that so many New Jerseyans like to be a part of different events and sports, especially when it comes to our youth. There's nothing like watching a good competition of any sort and seeing New Jersey's youngest battle it out for the win.

This is especially true in New Jersey's schools, where sports and competitions are endless. However, should anyone who participates be entitled to a trophy? I say no.

Now before I dive into it, I will say I have one exception when it comes to very young kids. I do believe that giving them all awards to boost their confidence for trying something new isn't such a bad thing. But as far as older kids are concerned, we really need to get away from this practice.

The trophy table at the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards
The trophy table at the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards (Matt Sayles/Academy of Television Arts & Sciences via AP, File)

What's the point of being competitive?

For one, it doesn't really do anything for those who want to be competitive. Yes, you should always give it your all in any competition, that's a given. But does giving your all entitle you to receive an award?

You'll always have the team jersey and team photos, which should mean more than any trophy. Whether you win or lose, being part of a team and working together as one will always make you a winner no matter what. Let the trophy be the ultimate goal of being better than the rest.

NJ AYF Jersey Shore Football & Cheer Alliance
(Mike Liloia)

But do you really have to be better than the rest?

If we just give out trophies to everyone, then who really even cares about keeping score in the first place? Does it really matter if you do your best or work with a team?

And it's not just physical sports. What about who advances in a chess tournament? If a blanket award is going to be handed out to everyone no matter what, then who cares about doing their best? A trophy will be in your hands at the conclusion of the tournament so why bother?

CORRECTION Camden No More Baseball Baseball

You're going to lose and need to learn to accept it

Another reason has to do with the fact that you're going to lose a lot more than win. Not only is that true in sports and competitions, but it's also true in adulthood.

Think about how many jobs most people apply for and don't get. The odds will most likely be stacked against you, and that's OK. In fact, losing is what makes you stronger, and better. In the workforce, landing a job is like receiving that trophy.

So if losing makes you stronger, then why give participation trophies in the first place? Maybe treat the participation trophy like that rejection letter for a job you didn't get. Use it to make yourself better the next time, and ultimately, the top prize.

(Elnur, ThinkStock)
(Elnur, ThinkStock)

There will always be some exceptions

Just like most things in life, there may be some occasions where awarding everyone something is the way to go. As mentioned above, very young children who are trying something for the first time should receive something. At that early stage, confidence is still being established, and it's important to recognize that.

Another exception could be a charity event. If you're part of a fundraiser event, for example, then absolutely recognition is in order. However, there should still be a distinct difference between the top prize versus the rest.


Losing is never fun, but it's part of life

Look, everyone should have a good time when it comes to competitions. Whether win or lose, it's important to always give it your all.

However, we also have to learn the harsh reality that we're going to lose a lot more in life than win. This is very much true in adulthood and should be a lesson we learn while we're growing up. Unfortunately, participation trophies won't do anything to boost that confidence and give you that drive to do better next time.

They're called competitions for a reason. Aside from top prizes and select specialty awards for being the best in a certain category, no other awards should be given out. Those who do get a trophy have earned it. And if you didn't get one, whether as a team or individual, then that's OK. Be upset, but also use that loss as motivation to change the outcome the next go around.

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