A North Carolina General Assembly bill would ban so-called “participation trophies” awarded to youth athletes solely for taking part in an event.
State Senator Timothy Moffitt, a Republican from Hendersonville, introduced his bill, titled “Eliminate Participation Trophies”, on Thursday.
“Youth sports or other youth recreation activities operated under the authority of a local government shall not include awards for participants based solely on their participation in the sport or other activity,” the bill says. “Awards provided in connection with the activity, if any, shall be based on identified performance achievements.”
The bill does not define “youth” with an age range or provide any other specifics.
Why Are Participation Trophies so Popular?
Participation trophies are commonly associated with millennials, but they’ve been used in some form for decades.
They are given to children (most typically, although some adult competitions feature them as well) who don’t place in the top 3 in competition therefore would not normally qualify for an award.
Critics believe they promote narcissism and entitlement among children.
“Trophies for all convey an inaccurate and potentially dangerous life message to children: We are all winners. This message is repeated at the end of each sports season, year after year, and is only reinforced by the collection of trophies that continues to pile up,” writes Betty Berdan.
“We begin to expect awards and praise for just showing up — to class, practice, after-school jobs — leaving us woefully unprepared for reality.”
Proponents argue they reward effort and provide recognition for trying new things, which critics say can be accomplished without literal participation trophies.
“Kids are learning about their abilities and strengths and vulnerabilities all the time, every day. It’s not easy and it’s inescapable,” Candida Fink M.D. wrote for Psychology Today.
“Young children aren’t developmentally ready to face the adult world of competition and winning and losing. This notion treats children as if their brains and bodies are just those of ‘little adults’—but child development science shows this idea to be wrong, even dangerous.”
Moffitt has not commented on the legislation at this time.