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Participation Trophies Revisited

12/18/2015 03:45 EST | Updated 12/18/2016 05:12 EST
Kali Nine LLC via Getty Images
Group of multi-ethnic children (9 to 11 years) with medals.

Recently, I ran the Tannenbaum 10k race in Toronto. My time was 52:45, nowhere near the person who finished first at 32:14 or the woman who finished first in my age group at 37:29.

At the end of the race, I received a medal, along with the other 1,000 or so other participants. I proudly wore my medal for group shots with my running group and out for brunch after the race. I sure felt like a winner. I trained hard, ran my hardest and finished at 4 minutes and 10 seconds faster than last year.

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Why am I sharing all this? Am I hoping for a big group hug or a "Yay Steph!"? No. I am writing this article because in September, my partner Tal and I wrote about why we felt kids should get participation trophies and ribbons in amateur sports. The article also appeared in the Huffington Post.

The purpose of the article was to start a conversation. Some of the push back we received was mind boggling. One comment was from Wayne in Saskatoon.

I have two daughters who got those lumps of metal. One still has them, she works for minimum wage, when she feels like it, and keeps telling us she is going to go back to university. The other one threw them out, she has city and provincial championship trophies and medals on her wall. She is in 2nd year university, is coaching hockey, and has a part time job. She has a career goal in sight and working to be successful. The other one plays video games and sleeps, oh she can talk but as I tell her, you are full of "I will", and empty in "I have" done. She is the employee who shows up only a few minutes late and looks for any reason to skip work. Those awards should be stopped they reward laziness and the lack of effort.

Well Wayne, I suspect that your daughter's lack of ambition is a little more complex than a few ribbons or medals she received for just showing up.

I ran my first 10k race last December in my mid-forties. My goal was to do my best and finish the race. I did not do it for the medal, but appreciated the recognition. I continue to train hard, but continue to be realistic that I will not be placing in the top three anytime soon. Does this make me a loser?

About the Author: Stephanie is co-founder and co-editor of Her Magazine. A graduate of Queen's University and The London School of Economics, she spent over 15 years in financial services marketing. Stephanie is a mom of 3, with a tween daughter and identical twin boys.

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