Trophy Life


NFL player James Harrison made news when he made his two young sons return participation trophies received from a neighborhood youth sports program.

Irritated that his children had been rewarded simply for showing up, he felt that they should be returned until the boys could earn a real trophy.

I am not a trophy mom. I mean I think I’m a catch, but I’m not “into” trophies.


As insufferable as this is going to sound, I’m just going to say it: both of my children are good at an awful lot of things. Over the years they have taken part in a variety of sports and amassed a variety of trophies.

Not on display

I can’t tell you how many because they are all in a box in the barn. I’m just not a “trophy” person. Your accomplishments are enough. Why is a plastic statue necessary? I mean no disdain if you love them. I’ve seen amazing displays with photos and trophies. It’s just not for me. I’m no interior designer. You may not like my four foot wooden rabbit with one ear. Yes really.

I’m not one to throw stones at any houses — glass, trophied or otherwise. I have always felt that the game, the score, the win, the photos and the memories were trophy enough.

Sports lessons

Win or lose the breathless recitation of the play by play, the amazing play, the devastating loss that you learn to recover from — these are the “spoils” of athletics. Sure I like a letterman’s jacket, the captain’s band, the certificate to press into the scrapbook. Yet, I’ve never been much for participation awards. “Been there, done that, got the tee-shirt” is enough for me. I can’t see spending hard earned funds on a medal or trophy that says “I was there.”

No more participation awards. As my children have grown the demands of athletics have weeded out participation awards — and good riddance. It isn’t that I want to disappoint little children. I’m the original “hustle” mom. I cheer effort. I applaud a good try.
I think everyone should get ice cream after a game. The winner is already happy, it’s the loser who needs a little pick me up. Who, after all, isn’t cheered by ice cream? That doesn’t mean there will not be the sting of being left out or losing out.

First string

Athletics teach discipline, teamwork, and a fair amount of blood, sweat and tears. They can also teach you that life isn’t fair. That you can work hard, play harder, earn the Captain’s Band, First Chair or First String and somehow still not quite make the cut. And that stinks. And it’s unfair. And you know what? You survive?

Sometimes, when the disappointment clears — you thrive.

Teen lessons learned

GirlWonder has experienced that lately. To be frank she’s had what I’d call a “rough” summer. Not in any real way, just the usual first world problems of an otherwise blessed teen life. Lost a love. Lost a Captain’s Band. It happens. Still, despite the stifling disappointment she’s learned an awful lot too. Sometimes it’s fun to NOT be in charge. It’s nice to just be a “team player.”

Just do your best

It’s okay to do your best and have that be pretty darn good but somehow — not quite good enough. It’s also okay to cheer for your friend who achieved the victory and nailed the goal. Sometimes being happy for someone else means giving up a little bit of you want. It’s okay to work really really hard and not be the “best” at something.

In sports.
In life.
In relationships.

Good and bad

Most of us are going to have good times and bad times. We are going to be amazing at some things and so-so at others.
Learning to embrace things when they are closer to “lows” is equally as important as celebrating the highs. In whatever you do as long as you work hard, play hard, play fair and do your best you may not always “win” but you are still going to have a pretty good life. That is reward enough. You don’t really need a medal for that.

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