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FACT: The Argument Against ‘Participation Trophies’ Has Always Been Fiction

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In the 2010s, lots of Americans griped about “participation trophies,” and how these seemingly “unearned” rewards are what created a generation of millennials with undesirable personality traits like entitlement, laziness, and general uselessness.
But it turns out these trophies didn’t start with millennials at all.  For example, a clipping from a 1922 edition of an Ohio newspaper reads, “Members of the victorious outfits will be given individual trophies.  A participation trophy also will be given to each athlete playing in the series.”  Those kids would’ve been born between 1905 and 1908, and grew up through World War I, the Spanish Influenza pandemic, Roaring Twenties, and came of age during the Great Depression.
They were what Tom Brokaw called the “Greatest Generation.”  Slate outlines that, after this, the practice of giving out trophies just for participation then continued for decades.  But, trophies weren’t mass-produced and sold in sporting goods stores until the 1960s.
Add to this that people from different generations process things differently, and you’ll find that older people always find wrongs with how younger people conduct themselves (“Those darn kids!“).
Plus, as InsideHook points out, “There is no scientific consensus yet, but there are researchers well-versed in the subject who believe these [participation] trophies hold merit.  And there are ways in which the award-givers (parents, coaches and teachers) can tinker with the process to make sure that receiving children feel seen, appreciated and actually motivated to keep working at whatever the activity may be.”

Learn more, here:  (InsideHook)


  • Millennials often get accused of having a variety of undesirable personality traits, and many claim it’s all because of the participation trophies they got as kids
  • InsideHook points out that participation trophies weren’t invented in the ‘90s, and that there’s evidence they were given out as far back as 1922, even if mass trophy manufacturing didn’t start until the 60s
  • Plus: older generations always love to give younger generations a hard time (“those darn kids”) and some psychologists say there’s merit in giving out participation trophies, though the scientific community has not come to a consensus just yet

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