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According to Caddick and Ryall (2012), the value of sport and competitiveness is to get a winner and, in order to give it a competitive advantage, the players are interested in outdoing each other by being the best in an operation. At the end of the day, the best of the participants will receive a reward in order to inspire them to keep up their results. Another aspect of the award is to inspire those who have not reached the top positions to try much harder to get the award offered to the top performers. Awards offer a sense of satisfaction and give the best person a good feeling of pride that is a motivator for a person to perform better (Jones, 2015). However, in recent times children are being given awards just by participating in any competition with the top candidates being offered slightly bigger trophies for the events that they become outstanding. Not only does giving trophies just for participation purposes ruin the enjoyment in competition but it also compromises the level of competition. Participation medals provide children with a false sense of entitlement since it makes the children soft by not portraying the value of hard work and being outstanding in an activity.
Participation medals raise children with a false sense of entitlement. Children become soft and do not value the need to be the best at any activity they undertake in since as long as they participate they will be awarded just as their other peers.
Children who are given participation medals often do not have a competitive edge in the activities they are involved in as participants (Gucciardi, 2012). Giving children participation medals compromises on their competitiveness, since they do not have the driving goal to ensure that they give their best at the activities they are involved with. Most of the children who receive participation medals do not put in the required effort in the activities to make them enjoyable to watch or participate since they will all receive a token for their involvement. Welch (2016) points out that the sense of entitlement wrongly given comes in whereby children are led to believe that they will be constantly rewarded for barely doing the little things in life. Children will not work hard since, despite their mediocre performances they will be rewarded later for just showing up and not doing actually what is required.
As disclose by Jones (2015) being involved in a competition brings out the best in the participants who are identified by their exceptional qualities in the activity being performed. Having identified the best in a competition, often to encourage them to perform best and to keep up their interest in the activity, they are given rewards in form of medals or trophies. Giving out of participation models affects the value of competition as it rewards all that participate whether it is the best or the poorest by the virtue of participation (Welch, 2016).
All competitions have an order of ranking from the best to the worst or from the first to the last, which provides a way to identify the performances of each participant by merit of their rank (Jones, 2015). The rank shows the participant that is exceptional and needs to keep being better and also identifies those that need to put more effort. Issuing of participation medals to every participant gives a false rank to those involved as even those that require to improve or work harder are awarded for their below average performances.
A case example is in sports such as basketball, where the best player receives the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award as a form of encouragement to other participants to also perform to their level best. It also provides the winner of the award with motivation to keep up their exceptional performances and a sense of satisfaction each time they glance at their award. On the other hand, the participants who fail to receive awards are encouraged to work hard to improve their performance. It enables children to understand that they did not turn out to be the best for a number of reasons, while those who get discouraged will eventually drop out to take up other activities that they have a shot at performing at their level best. However, providing participation medals derails the aspect of motivation since even the uninterested children who are not so much into sport receive awards, which give them the wrong idea of sports.
Additionally, giving participation medals compromises on the integrity of the activities being performed since even those that do not give their best are rewarded (Simon, Torres & Hager, 2014). This goes to affect the talents of children, as they are not able to identify the best activities that they are good at for whichever they participate in they are awarded. Most of the children will grow without identifying their purposes in life since they did not discover what they are able to do best and be rewarded for that particular activity. Simon, Torres, and Hager, (2014) argue that participation medals will create an era with average and mediocre future stars in sports if not misleading talented children to participate in the wrong competitive activities.
Frost (2012) claims that participation medals encourage children to be more proactive in outdoor activities. These awards provide children with a message about the value of participating in activities and teach teamwork (Frost, 2012). Children are also awarded for their time and energy that was used in the activities they participated in which encourages more participation. Moreover, these medals are a source of joy and satisfaction for the young children who would feel left out and uninterested if not awarded for being involved in the activities. Lastly, the medals given to the children educate them on the need to perform better so as to receive the ultimate price that is the bigger medal or trophy given to the exceptional performer. Performance medals create an environment for children to understand that their efforts count for something.
Caddick, N., & Ryall, E. (2012). The social construction of ‘mental toughness’–A fascistoid ideology?. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 39(1), 137-154.
Frost, J. L. (2012). The changing culture of play. International Journal of Play, 1(2), 117-130.
Gucciardi, D. F. (2012). Measuring mental toughness in sport: a psychometric examination of the Psychological Performance Inventory–A and its predecessor. Journal of personality assessment, 94(4), 393-403.
Jones, T. (2015). Our Conception of Competitiveness: Unified but Useless?. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 42(3), 365-378.
Simon, R. L., Torres, C. R., & Hager, P. F. (2014). Fair play: The ethics of sport. Westview Press.
Welch, K. (2016). Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World: How One Family Learned that Saying No Can Lead to Life's Biggest Yes. NavPress.
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