The Keller Youth Association Football Program in northern Texas will not be handing participation trophies to their players this year. They say it’s because awards should be earned.
“Going forward participation medals or trophies will be going away. KYA Football board feels that giving participation medals or trophies isn’t sending our children the right message,” the association wrote in a Facebook post. “Life does not give you a participation job or medal, life makes you earn everything you get,” the announcement continued.
President of the Keller Youth Association Whit Green thinks the football board’s decision was the right one. “We support the decision of our football program to stop giving participation trophies, in conjunction with better rewarding achievement,” Green said in an email to ABCNews.com.
Used in recent years as a way to motivate children and celebrate their effort, participation awards – given to all the children who are part of the team – have come under fire in recent years.
Aimee Engle has a son who plays football with the Keller Youth Association, and her husband is an assistant coach. She thinks the organization’s decision was the right one.
“Real life didn’t give me a trophy, that’s why I think it’s a great decision,” Engle told ABCNews.com. “We weren’t teaching them they need to earn the right to have a trophy, that it’s something they should strive for.”
Writing in the New York Times, author Ashley Merriman cites the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) as the biggest offender, saying they spend “as much as 12 percent of their yearly budgets on trophies.”
Karen Mihara is a national program administrator with AYSO. She says the organization doesn’t have a specific policy on participation trophies, but when awards are given, it’s to reinforce AYSO’s core philosophies. “If they [trophies] are used, it’s because our focus is on the development of the child, as well as providing a world-class soccer program,” Mihara told ABCNews.com.
Scott Gimple, the director of player development with AYSO, said kids who play sports care more about the experience than the awards. “I think the focus should be less on the trophies, either given or not given,” Gimple said in an email to ABCNews.com. “The kids are not playing for trophies. They play for the enjoyment of playing.”
The Keller Youth Association Football Program seems to be comfortable with their decision. “It was good to hear from both sides of the coin and KYA loves knowing that we are headed in the right direction,” the organization posted on Facebook Wednesday.