By Brandon Hansen/Brandon is the managing editor for the Chewelah Independent
Let me say two words that cause a cold shiver to go down the back of everybody.
Nothing signals the decay of America more than those little plastic representations of mediocrity. Participation trophies have been the rallying call of this country going in the dumpster.
The funny thing is, the people handing out the participation trophies are the very ones complaining about them. It’s this cognitive dissonance that I really want to apologize to our younger readers in sports for. I’ve yet to run into a kid that was proud of his participation trophy as much as some complainers would like you to believe.
And it’s my firm opinion that those who competed in high school sports 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 years ago, have no clue just what the youth sports scene looks like now. Keep in mind these are also the same people in charge of said sports.
The first example of how much sports has changed is a private 2A school, Archbishop Murphy. They had a tremendous football squad this year, but so do I when I get to use the “Create A Team” feature on my Madden Football video game. Archbishop Murphy was a private school that had such college-sized talent that they didn’t play three or four games because the other high schools just straight up forfeited.
OUTRAGE! WHAT A JOKE! YOU ALWAYS PLAY THE GAME! You say. Yes but in your day, you probably weren’t playing against a private school that was UW’s practice squad. Seriously, go look up photos of Archbishop Murphy playing in the state title game, it looked like Lilliputians playing against Goliath.
These schools forfeited for safety reasons. Why hurt kids in a 60-point blowout, when your public school is seeing less and less turnout for sports. And some people might blame smaller turnout on kids wanting to play video games, to which I counter: most college recruits are vetted from special training camps, private coaches and other programs before the high school games are even played. When you see a a kid from Chewelah that plays football every fall compared to a kid from the west side of the state that spends all summer in a QB camp – well you tell me which guy is going to play college sports. Who wants to be a punching bag in an unfair system? Kids don’t want the participation trophy at this point because the system is a farce. And despite some people’s cry that millennials are awful – they’re smarter than you think, folks.
College sports, too, aren’t what they used to be. These kids get a “$100,000 scholarship” (why a college education costs that much these days is another sign of what’s wrong with our higher education system) and shouldn’t be paid. But the people making the money are the much older people in the luxury suites above the stadium. They’re not putting themselves up for serious injury and, as science has proven, irreversible brain damage.
No doubt, the same people that were part of the participation trophy hating crown complained about Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey sitting out his team’s bowl game this year. McCaffrey is a bonafide NFL pick and he doesn’t want to risk injury and lose money for a pointless postseason bowl game. Why are even bowl games around? Oh, it’s because all these universities, run by the same people sitting in the luxury boxes, want a way to rack in money while their players aren’t paid. And they want lots of bowl games. More than just the three college playoff games we currently have. This older generation running these universities want the Clickhereforafreeipad.com Bowl because it pads their pockets and reputations. If that isn’t a participation trophy than I don’t know what is.
Another fun thing about these participation trophy complaining people is that they’re the same crowd that has been complaining about the WIAA’s state basketball tournaments for dropping from 16 teams to eight teams. As a sports writer I’ve loved the current eight-team format because all the teams there deserve to be there.
It also means I don’t have to sit around Yakima for four days.
You lose quite a few blowout games by narrowing it down to a field of eight. Also the teams that lose on the first day are statistically very unlikely to trophy at the tournament. The WIAA also had to factor in this thing called “money” and “budgets” to run the tournament.
But don’t tell the participation trophy-hating people. They’ve said the eight team tournament is cheating kids out of the state tournament experience (getting blown out by 40 when you’re a 13-15 team that eeked through districts?). “We’re about the kids!” this group says. “Why are you cheating the kids out of this experience!” they cry.
(In reality they just want to pad their kids’ and their coaches’ resume with state appearances)
And don’t get me started about district tournaments. I don’t know why we even have a regular season anymore when you let all but one or two teams make the tournament and making sense of these brackets is like decoding egyptian hieroglyphs. Sounds awfully like people organizing districts would be totally fine with handing out participation trophies.
Simply put, this whole hate train against participation trophies is completely ridiculous and runs in complete contrast of how non-millennials run youth sports.
Kids today in sports have to deal with travel squads, fans that degrade them, fans that degrade refs, a push to play one sport year round and let’s not forget parents questioning these kids’ coaches because “they know better.” If I were a kid, I’d run quickly in the other direction from that type of behavior.
Participation trophies aren’t the problem with today’s athletics. It’s the hypocritical nature of the older non-participation trophy generation that’s made youth sports almost unbearable in the first place.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a participation ribbon to dust off.