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Does every child deserve a trophy or participation medal?

Posted at 6:31 AM, May 07, 2019

JUPITER, Fla., - For many parents, weekends are all about kids and their sports. Most celebrate the end of a season with ribbons, trophies and awards.

But what kind of impact is this recognition making on your child?

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“I'm a firm believer if you get a trophy, you kind of earned it,” says parent Alex Malagon.

Soccer practice on the fields in Jupiter takes on a new meaning. There's a debate being kicked around.

“Everybody's playing and trying hard. But if you're excelling, you should be rewarded just like anybody else,” says parent Matthew Thomas.

Moms, dads, even coaches can't seem to agree. At the end of the season, do you give all the kids a participation medal or hand out trophies to the top performers?

“They're 5 and 6 years old. They don't know any different, I feel like at this age,” says parent Carla Tavolacci.

Studies vary as much as opinions, but there's a growing argument that participation medals can build confidence at a young age.

“You got to ask yourself what is the point of giving somebody a trophy? To me, it’s to highlight success. It’s to highlight effort. It’s to highlight overcoming a challenge,” says psychologist Dr. Steve Arcidiacono.

He says it really depends on whether participation is a challenge. For kindergartners, first graders or first timers at a sport, Arcidiacono adds that participation may carry more weight.

As we found on the fields, at that age, the goal isn’t just to score.

“What we're trying to teach kids out here is sportsmanship, good character, team building, stuff like that,” says Coach Kellen Lewis.