New survey shows how Americans really feel about participation trophies

If you have a school-aged child who plays sports, you are more than familiar with the rise of the so-called participation trophy. Those in favor of the trophies-for-all methodology believe children cannot handle losing, and, therefore, everyone needs to be rewarded for participating. Those who disagree with the practice often point to participation trophies as the “wussification” of America.

With those competing ideologies in mind, the libertarian magazine Reason published the results of the latest Reason-Rupe poll showing 57% of Americans believe only winning players should receive trophies.

pie graphImage Source: Reason-Rupe

A 57% majority opinion in favor of merit-based trophy giving is certainly refreshing, but when you take a deeper look at the demographic breakdown, the results paint a very different picture.

According to Reason, the desire for “every kid to get a trophy” has a strong correlation with political beliefs. 66% of Republicans believe only winners should get trophies, while Democrats are split on the issue – 48% believe only winners deserve the recognition and 48% want trophies for all.

Based on the poll results, income, education, and age also play a role in one’s opinion. Reason reports:
For instance, a majority (55%) of those making less than $30,000 a year want all kids to get trophies and 42 percent want only the winning players to receive them. In contrast, among those making $90,000 a year or more, 72 percent want only the winner to receive trophies, while 26 percent favor participation trophies.

salary breakdownImage Source: Reason-Rupe/Washington Post

The age breakdown is even more telling. Among the 18-24 demographic, 51% of people say all kids should get a trophy. In the 25-34 year old age group, that number declines to 43%. For those ages 35-54 that number declines to 39%, and – last but not least – just 29% of “seniors” support the trophies for everyone.

age breakdownImage Source: Reason-Rupe/Washington Post

On radio this morning, Mike Broomhead filled in for Glenn, and he looked at the poll results in relation to the current state of America’s global prowess – or lack there of.

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“You’ve got all these young people, 18 to 24 years old, thinking everybody should get a trophy. Is it immaturity… or is it because that’s how they were raised,” Mike concluded. “There’s nothing wrong with realizing you are going to fight like crazy and do your absolute best and you still are not going to succeed… Now, I know that sounds so simplistic. [But], it is not.”

  • landofaahs

    It may be appropriate for the current White House occupant….Wait….he’s on the golf course again. Never mind.

    • Carol James


      ✦✦✦ ✦✦�✦ ✦✦✦ ✦✦✦ ✦✦✦

      • Tim F

        *smack* *smack* *smack* *smack* *smack* *smack*
        No one cares!

      • Gatordoc

        Get a life, Carol. Get a clue. THIS IS NOT THE FORUM FOR STUPID MARKETING SCHEMES!!!

    • not a liberal

      he thinks that deserves a trophy too!

      • landofaahs

        How would you like to be told “You sucked but here’s your trophy”? I’d be embarrassed to accept it and it would be a constant reminder of failure. But then I would feel the same about welfare too.

  • Dee1889

    A certificate of participation is appropriate. ONly. Period. Trophies are for those who excel. Winning, scoring, doing the best in the group. That’s life. Time to get used to it.

    • Shane

      Yes, it is really bad for the future of our country that so many young people think they should get a trophy for just showing up. That’s not how it works in a capitalist society young people.

      • April Leach

        it is telling about how the younger generation feels about life. all one needs to do at work is show up and participate-regardless about the productivity all should get the same prize/pay

  • Junelynn

    So what if they were told a bad man is going to cut their heads off if they don’t win that trophy? Would that change their minds?

    • Laura

      So your argument is a ridiculous scenario, that would never actually happen?

      • not a liberal

        we’ll see how ridiculous when you head in up against that sword!!

  • LandofDave

    If you loose no trophy … that’s life get use to it.

  • BO_stinks

    they hand out nobel peace prizes without any effort whatsoever it would appear

    • Today22011

      That Peace Prize decision ( B.O. ) was a reason to doubt the integrity of the prize.

      • Mike Hughes

        I’ve doubted the integrity of the prize since Al Gore got it over Irena Sendler who saved some 2500 children from Hitler’s gas chambers.

  • DonkeyHoatie

    Back in the 80’s, we got participation trophies for youth soccer. They were little tiny things, with a 2-inch square wooden base and a plastic soccer player on them. Everybody knew they were meaningless, and basically you put them on your shelf to show you played organized soccer one year. And everybody knew that the real trophies, the ones with stone bases and larger figures, were given to people who played on the playoff-level teams.

    As long as they are continuing to give greater reward to those who excel, I don’t have a problem with giving out some small token that tells the world that you got your tail off the couch and played in a sport for a few months.

  • Dan Condon

    That’s the demographic that demands a $1000,000 a year job at blue chip company because they have a degree in Northwest African lesbian studies. Sorry fools, you learn and grow more from a loss, than a win. Earn it or STFU!!!!

  • Mary Casanova

    The only people who benefit from everyone gets a trophy is the trophy shop.

  • Maebe

    that has a lot to do with mindset…notice the $30,000 bracket, (which in today’s world is poverty) want the trophies….these are the ones who have the entitlement mentality….ie..we deserve it ’cause we are the down trodden and all….where those who have put in the hard work and got somewhere in life $75-$100.000 know and appreciate paying your dues…(.because let’s face it they didn’t start at high dollar jobs …they worked their way up most likely)..only want the trophy earned…everyone has to get to the mindset of no hard work and winning =no trophy…period.

  • Lee Weber

    Does not matter. Look at the attitude of the younger generation. Its an entitlement belief society that is 180 degrees out with the core principles america was once known….we were a nation that once valued the strong, the victor, the ‘best.” We now subscribe to a more communist belief – share so all have the same, no one person is to be valued, and the strongest somehow should be shammed for having achieved. The reason I say it does not matter is what we once hailed as the american value system, our trait, reputation, fiber, characteristics, is dissipating and will vanish by the time our 18-24 year old generation enters halls of leadership. They will shame individual success because they – in large – never experienced or were encouraged to be bold and sincerely great individually.

  • Harborgal

    From the very first game we played with our child we have never allowed him to win without doing it himself. He has never had an issue with that since he has never known any different. He gets everything on his own merit or he doesn’t get it at all. Period. Because of that he understands that not everyone wins every time and to always strive to do your very best. Something else it has taught him… humility. That there is no shame in not winning but it encourages him to try harder the next time. To be a gracious loser is just as important as to be gracious winner. I see a lot of kids who don’t understand the concept of not getting everything they want. I don’t want that to be my child.

  • Yo Mamma

    There is no greater shame on earth than the trophy stolen


    What trophy got stolen?

    The eternal inheritance trophy

    The one God Creator gave the Hebrew Priests

    Oh that one

    Yes that one

    The one the Christians copied and pasted to the front of their bumper bible like a moose after season. They don’t folow it, in fact hate it and all it represents, but it sure looks good on the grille

    Thats a real shame we should be so insensitive about their inheritance. I guess we had better just give it back to them and stop holding onto the old dying carcase

  • Shawn Cameron

    I think participation trophies are ridiculous. What is more ridiculous are the nightmare parents that rant and rave at their children if they don’t win or start fights with refs etc. Anyone who has kids that play rec. ball know the kind of idiots I’m talking about.

    The issue of participation trophies pales in comparison to the issue of the very people who are supposed to be the example to the kids, act less mature than the kids.

    That’s the real disgrace surrounding children’s sports.

    • Shawn Cameron

      I also wonder if this (like most polls) they posed the questions to get the exact results they wanted.

      There are no trolls here or on the FB page arguing in support of participation trophies. Just sayin.


    Even as a child I knew that participation trophies were stupid. I received one once and unceremoniously threw it in the trash (at home of course). If you don’t experience what it’s like to lose, you won’t be able to handle it latter in life. Failure is the greatest teacher there is. When you try to take the sting out of losing, failure doesn’t teach the lesson it’s supposed to. Parents, when your child loses, this is what I want you to tell them.

    “You lost. It’s okay to feel bad, but you’re going to try again. Let the disappointment drive you to do better. Failure sucks, but it teaches us to do better. This loss shows you where you need to improve. There is nothing to be ashamed of so long as you put forth your best effort. Keep working hard and you’ll get better. Realize that everyone fails sometimes. Thomas Edison tried and failed to make a working light bulb hundreds of times.”

    Then take your kid to have a hearty dinner of whatever their favorite food is.

  • aeore

    I’m sorry but not everyone is equally talented. Giving a trophy to the winner should be motivation for the loser to either get better or find something else they can be the winner at instead.

    Giving a trophy to everyone tells kids results don’t matter. Results do matter! This country didn’t rise to the top by losing its way there. The US rose to the top because working hard to be the best, being the winner, was and is important.

    I’m in the 25-34 age group and I realized as a kid, a little “pain” in the short term is what it takes to reap rewards in the long term (work harder, practice more is what it takes to get better). So what if a kid feels bad they didn’t get a trophy this time, in 15 minutes they won’t care! Where are the parents telling the kid, “its ok, we’ll work harder on it. Learn from what didn’t work and where you need more practice.” And sometimes, “Maybe this isn’t the thing for you, do you want to try….”

  • Edward Kimble

    Well, in a nation full of losers, how else could they get a trophy? Just teasing. Nah nah nuh nah nyah!!!

  • Jackie Bell

    WINNERS should get the trophies. Participants can buy the T-shirt.

  • landofaahs

    Participation trophy. Is that where pajama boy got his pajama’s?

  • Wildshot

    If they keep score, then only the winners get trophies. The little ones often play and they do not keep score, then a certificate or trophy because “they did so weil” maybe? As soon as a child is old enough to understand that the score stands for the winner and loser, only the winner should get one. I would suggest that my son or daughter throw away any trophy that was not earned. It means nothing. that is not the way life is and it gives them the wrong idea.

  • Nichole Harnish

    These kids are in for a rude awakening when they become adults… oh wait, that’s how it used to be, now they will get a hand out without a drug screening or just sue the person or company that doesn’t give them what they want. All of us teaching our kids values are actually doing them a disservice bc they will be the ones getting sued! Ugh, this whole society disgusts me. We are a society of entitled babies!

  • RagsOnYouSchwags

    so young, broke, leftist pu**y losers believe everyone should get a trophy, lol. what a shock. it’s amazing how many people want to be taken care of for life simply because they managed to squeeze their dumb a88es out of a vagina.

  • Today22011

    Maybe participation theory was really a plan aimed at getting parents’ ego involved.

  • Bat Masterson

    What do they give out at tea party rallies?….Lawn Jockeys?

  • Mike Hughes

    I remember in second grade we got ribbons for 1st, 2nd, & 3rd place for field day. Then in third grade we got participation ribbons & I was confused and a bit ticked off.

  • 5465vick

    I played on teams that won and on teams that lost! I was happy when we won an sad when we lost! When we lost I got over it quickly! Kids it seems are better sports than their parents and other grown ups! How about letting the kids teach the grown ups about sportsmanship and fair play! It is so disgusting to watch grownups behave like fools fighting each other at their kids sports games! Grownups, grow up, it’s only a child’s game! Kids also need someone to teach them about losing! No one goes through life without a few knocks! However I have stretched my imagination to think of very many people capable of teaching this to our kids! Seeing that grownups behave as they do at their kids games! People GROW UP and try to set a good example for your kids!

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