When I was growing up we had winners and losers in sports.  Gold, silver and bronze in dance competitions.  Today things are different.  My children have many participation trophies from their days of beginner sports.  If a team doesn’t keep score, does that mean the kids are unaware whether they won or lost?  I have had many heated debates on this subject and I can tell you my children have learned so much from sports and the participation trophey has nothing to do with any of it.

As a former rep soccer mom I understand why they do not keep score until the age of thirteen years old.  The purpose is player development.  There are many coaches that are still fixated on the win.  The end result is most important, and the process is not the main focus. I watched a girl score a beautiful goal, from the half way line.  It was an unbelievable goal, but she was not a team player.  She took the ball down the field on her own and scored the goal as though she was the only one on the field. This player was never substituted out, but instead was left in the rest of the game.  The whole point of playing on a team is working together.  This girl was rewarded for scoring a goal, it didn’t matter how she did it. We weren’t keeping score… Apparently. Clearly this team was, and winning was the main focus. I’d much rather have my team lose because the players had tried new positions, or tired to kick with their non-dominant leg. 

Winning is fun. It’s quite an accomplishment to bring home a medal and know your hard work counted. It makes you work harder to get it next time. But for many this doesn’t matter. The child that comes in 23rd or 53rd at the school cross country meet for example, still tried something and finished. Would a participation ribbon really be that bad? Especially since that child was too worried to run for the past two years and finally signed up. 

What matters is that they are part of something. They have fun and learn something while doing it. Its being proud of putting in an effort, and having your family come and watch and cheer you on. 

It’s not a black and white answer. Focus on the process, and the effort given. The end result is a bonus… Or not.