overall: 7 in x 3 in x 2 in; 17.78 cm x 7.62 cm x 5.08 cm
Soccer trophy given to Kristy Rogers for participation in the Jefferson County Youth Soccer League in 2006. Everyone on the team was given a trophy for participation in the league, regardless of whether the team won or lost.
A participation trophy is an award given to a participant of an athletic or scholastic team that has not actually won or placed in an event but has ‘participated’. The effectiveness of the participation trophy has long been studied with solid arguments on both sides. Those against giving these trophies feel they do not give kids the opportunity to experience failure or learn from it, giving kids a sense of entitlement just by showing up and diminishing the actual winners in a competition. Those in favor of the trophies feel that the positive reinforcement of receiving an award, especially at an early age, will give kids the incentive to work hard and contribute to the team. Studies do show that around 8 to 12 years old, kids want to earn their trophies rather than being handed one for participation as they have a greater understanding of how to play the game and that there is an actual winner and a loser.
Participation trophies or medals have been in existence for generations. Athletes of each Olympic Games, beginning with the first modern Games in 1896, have received a participation medal simply for being at the Olympics. An article on Slate’s website found evidence of participation trophies given to members at a high school basketball tournament in February of 1922, “Members if the victorious outfits will be given individual trophies. A participation trophy will also be given each athlete playing in the series.” In 1924, The University of Minnesota “debuted a ’30-inch sterling participation trophy’ for campus organization having the highest number of participation points.”
There was an increase in giving participation trophies in the 1990s to broaden the youth sports audience, reduce the emphasis on winning and provide incentive for those paying to play in organized sports. Some researchers say the burgeoning trophy business of the 1960s and 1970s also played a part in the flood of trophies given out in the last forty years increasing their sales by 500% in that time.