Medal of Participation.


Softball season is over.

It’s another milestone in my daughter’s life.

Even the Kids Who Can't Make the Final Game Get a Medal.

Each sport she plays seems to come and go so quickly (except soccer… which drags on… and then drags on some more).

I’ve said it before, time (and her childhood) are moving by at a breakneck pace.

And yet, I don’t seem to age.

Maybe it’s good genes.  Maybe it’s dementia.

When her last game ended, she was presented with the traditional Medal of Participation.

If you play… good or bad… you get a generic softball necklace (see picture).

This keepsake will undoubtedly get shoved into her bedroom drawer of abyss.  This means it will never be seen again (until we kick her out of the house and reclaim her room as our new office).

The medals are nice, but they seem so temporary (it’s possible many were lost on the trip home).

This isn’t how my generation was raised.

When I was a kid (the 80’s… or the golden years as I like to call them), winners were given trophies and everyone else got nothing (and they liked it).

Now we have to make sure everyone feels good about themselves.

Wins and losses take a backseat to feelings and self-esteem.

This has always seemed odd to me.  Life used to be simpler.  Twenty years ago you could easily identify who won the game.

Now everyone is treated the same.

Call me crazy, but there was something to be said for one team parading a gigantic trophy (usually plastic) around the field while the 2nd place team stood off to the side and cried their eyes out.

It was simple and straightforward.

If you wanted a trophy, you had to practice.  And work.

Then practice some more.

It was what made America great.

The people who worked the hardest got the biggest rewards.

But things are different now.

I’ve always felt it was wrong to reward kids simply for participating.

I don’t do this often, so pay attention.

I may be changing my mind.

Maybe.

Yesterday, I saw one of my daughter’s teammates at the grocery store (a full 48 hours after their last game and the awarding of the Medals of Participation).

Much to my surprise she was wearing her medal.

And she was very proud of herself.

Really proud.

Not because she was the best player or the team who won the championship (sadly, she wasn’t and they didn’t), but because she played.

She participated.

And she has the medal to prove it.

So maybe… just maybe… I’ve been wrong.  Maybe participating is more important than winning.

Maybe.

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