Our family is knee-deep in Little League baseball and I'm loving every minute of it. I love watching the mile-wide smiles of boys who hit the ball over the short-stop's head for the first time. Or watching the kid who caught his first pop-up wave to his mom and dad in the stands. Or watching my own son give me a thumbs-up when he tagged the runner out at second.
Most kids learn a tremendous amount from the start of the season to the final game. We don't recognize some teams that our kids played in the beginning of the season by the time we see them again in the playoffs because they have improved so much. Nicholas's team went to the championship game the very first season he played because his team consistently improved.
Some kids never see a championship game and Nicholas was lucky enough to experience it the first time around. His team went to the championship game again the following season for the same reasons. They played hard, learned a lot and applied the techniques taught by the coach.
Unfortunately, his team lost both times (the second time by one run...ouch) but they were thrilled for the opportunity. They know they gave it their all and that's all that mattered. Both teams received a trophy for competing in the championship game. One for the champions and one for the runners-up. Nicholas's trophies are proudly displayed in his room.
Christopher is enjoying his first year of Little League and is also learning valuable lessons about the game and team sports. When I received an email from one of Christopher's coaches asking if we wanted to order trophies for the kids my first thought was "what for?"
The league presents trophies for the two teams who compete in the championship game. The regular season isn't over yet, so why are we even talking about trophies? Our Little League experience so far has been 1) make it to the championship game and 2) get a trophy. If you aren't in the championship game, no trophy. Pretty simple.
I am so vehemently opposed to giving trophies and medals and ribbons just for being on a team. Please, people, stop the madness. By people, I mean parents. Please parents, stop coddling your kids and whispering in their ear that they are all winners just for showing up. Please stop suggesting that even if they don't make it to the championship game they can still get a trophy.
Life is all about success and disappointment. If my kid's team doesn't make it to the championship game this year he will be disappointed. I will be disappointed, too. But we will talk about how he worked hard, improved his game and learned valuable lessons. We will talk about how disappointment helps us learn about how to do things better or different next time around. I will let him feel sad.
I will not offer him a trophy just to make him feel better.
To be a winner you have fight your way to the top of the pack. Through blood, sweat and tears you have to earn the right for that trophy. Just being on a team doesn't earn you any rights.
Let's leave the trophies for the teams who earn them. For the rest of the teams, better luck next time.