Let’s Stop Awarding Trophies for 10th Place

By Greg Dabbs – Business Development Manager at Grafton Staffing

Greg DabbsThe count was 1 & 2 with two outs and runners on first and second base. The pitch comes in and I hit a shot over the fence in left center field. It was a good feeling to hit a home run that bounced off the roof of the big shed past the fence. It was the field we called “Shed Field”.  I was awarded my fifth home run ball that year for that hit, and all the guys signed it.

I’m not going to try to date myself, well I guess I am a little, but that was the time frame in the late 1970s and into the 1980s. This was one of those memories we all have of our youth that stick with us forever.

I also remember getting a third place ribbon in the 100 meter in track and my friend got the first place ribbon in shot put that same track meet. My little league baseball team received a first place trophy in ’83. In 1989, my high school baseball team received a first place trophy for winning Districts that year.

Just like in sports, I remember being in the spelling B and only those that finished first, second or third getting awards… not fourth or fifth and definitely not tenth place. These are examples of how top performers were recognized when I was growing up.

I believe we as a society have gravitated to rewarding anyone and everyone just for showing up.

Awards for First, Second and Third PlaceWe reward people for participation rather than for true achievement. The top performers get the same reward as those that come in last. These “participation trophies” as they’re called are hurting young people preparing to leave their protective childhood to enter the real world. This behavior is teaching them that average is good enough. That getting by on the bare minimum is okay.

This country has not become the greatest place to live on the planet by having that kind of a mindset. We need to get back to focusing on achievement and striving to be at the top.

Whether its trophies, ribbons, or awards of any kind, they should be earned. And only the top performers should get recognition for finishing first, second or third.  There’s only room for a select few at the top.

I do think that participation should be recognized. But it should be the kind of recognition that’s more verbal and a pat on the back. The trophies need to be reserved for those that make the podium. It will give the others motivation to work harder and achieve more in sports, in their job and in life.

Our society should always be striving to improve, working towards being on top of the podium in everything we do. We’re in trouble if we continue to settle for average and believing that’s a good thing. I encourage you to set a personal goal in 2019 of being in the top three (if not at the top) for something that matters to you! If you don’t make it, learn from that and try again.