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Written by: C.J. Aragon< Back to Articles
I don’t think that participation trophies are as prevalent in rodeo as other sports, but I do think the participation trophy problems carry over into rodeo as well. I have a different take on the problem than a lot of people. The kids and participants are not the problem, the problem is the parents.
Not many want to hear that, but the problem is the parents. I have never heard of the junior rodeo contestants budgeting for the rodeo they are putting on and making sure that they order awards for all of the other participants. At a young age prize money and prizes are not the main priority, just ask any nine year old entered in a rodeo. Most young participants in any sport are more interested in the having fun and the social aspect.
Kids are at competitive events for one of two reasons. One reason is they like to compete and have fun competing with their friends. Two, their parents want them entered.
Here is where the participation trophies come in. The parents want to justify the time and money they spend on and with their children, so the parents are the ones that need and want the trophies for their kids. The parents are the ones responsible for the “Participation Trophy Generation” not the kids, the problems that are developing in the students come directly from the parents’ actions. Everyone learns to win, but no one learns how to handle the disappointments, especially the parents. These parents are too protective of their kids, they don’t teach them basic life lessons of dealing with success and more importantly dealing with failure. Of work and accountability for your actions.
Put the blame where it belongs, on the parents. So how do we fix the problem?
At an early age students should be competing for the love of the sport, to develop their fundamental skills and improving. For this process to be complete there has to be a balance, there have to be up and downs. At an early age students need to learn how to win, but they also need to learn how to handle defeat and disappointments as well. Many times the lessons learned from losing are much better than any they learn from winning.
As a parent and a coach this can be tough to watch. It is hard to see your kid crying in disappointment. But a disappointment can go different ways as a learning tool, use it wisely. Don’t make excuses for your kid, don’t try to make it easy for them, and don’t give them a trophy for trying. Let them learn from their experience to be better in the future; if it is something they truly want, they will work at learning from their experience. They will become stronger and achieve more in the future as long as you don’t reward them for just participating.
Make sure you raise kids that understand that nothing is owed to them, and that nothing will be given to them for just participating.
Our main jobs as parents and coaches are to use our sport to develop the character of our kids as much as their skills inside the arena.