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A look at the problems with arguments against “participation awards.”

Participation awards. People have a problem with participation awards. The argument is that awards that do not signify an achievement these busybodies find significant weakens their own self-esteem to the point where they no longer feel special when they get their tenth sandwich free at whatever hole in the wall they thought they were competing in America’s Got Eating a Lot or whatever.

The truth is, psychology is against them. The reality of our lives is against them. Yet they feel they have a beef. Awards for little league seem to be their primary target. Story goes, a little kid, or even up to young adult played a sport. They didn’t send their opponents home in a St. John’s Ambulance, so they don’t deserve to be “rewarded” (because a molded-plastic trophy is something other than a mere souvenir) for “just showing up.”

I’m 100% certain that these people making a federal case out of participation awards do not celebrate their birthdays. Birthdays are the ultimate participation award. You didn’t die for a year. Have a cake and we’ll sing and here’s a gift card to that sandwich joint you keep bragging about getting your holes punched at, you bastard. No way. Birthdays? Please. Do something big, for a whole year, like hopping only on one foot the whole year, or go a year without using the word “ball,” including compounds thereof, then we’ll talk. Then you can have your fucking cake.

Same goes for that tenth-sandwich-free thing. Eating regularly isn’t an achievement. It’s a privilege. There are starving people in this world, and merely being lucky enough to not be one of them does not constitute an achievement (unless you did something like invent farming, maybe). If you’re so concerned about false awards, refuse that freebie.

These same people, when they go on vacation, they won’t buy souvenirs. Going to a museum does not qualify as achievement, so they can’t buy the reminder. Oh, wait. In that case, it’s commerce. So if their child buys himself the plastic twerking trophy, they’re cool with it? What if their child steals it? Isn’t successful theft an accomplishment of sorts? What if all the other teams in the AAAA…A ball league, that they somehow believe might qualify their little rascals for being called up to the big leagues, suddenly get chicken pox at the same time? The team wins by default? Is the trophy somehow earned then? What if the munchkins arranged for the whole league to get the pox? Does that count?

Anyway, back to psychology. If you want kids active, and many kids aren’t, rewarding them for being active is good. That’s not to say those trophies are really about reward. That’s a conceit in the mind of the parents. The trophy is so they can look back and remember how many sports they tried and maybe remember how much they grew as fucking human beings. The horror! It reminds them they can participate at all. That even if they weren’t the best, the world needs support roles, and sometimes the support classes make the difference, even if the parents of the quarterback think they shit gold.

In psychology, if you want a behavior to sustain and increase, you reinforce it. If you want it to cease, you withhold reinforcement. If you take away kids’ silly trophies, and if those trophies were rewarding to them, you may just find they stop participating. If they don’t care about the trophies, you saved a few bucks on trophies, and you reduced the amount of plastic waste in circulation.

Turn Left onto Memetic Circle

So the other important issue here is the so-called Putrification (Putrefaction) of America. Sometimes called the Pussification or Pussefaction. It’s a form of the Politically Correct meme, though purveyors of this version believe they are firmly anti-PCness.

I’m 90% sure this anti-participation-award crap came out of the mind of someone on the lookout for pussefying. The neighborhood pussy watch or something. Wait. The pussy posse. There you go.

But the point is, this idea that there is a definite trend in some vein, and then you can find the fucking pattern. The frequency illusion. You know, you find a dollar on the street and then suddenly you’re finding dollars everywhere. Except with a word, or a concept, or whatever. Not with money. Never with money. Damn you, Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon!

The difference in this case, the pussefaction-believer wants confirmation. They aren’t looking at all the ways America is not being changed, or being changed in other ways. They only look for, only see things that confirm.

In closing, a list of things that participation award haters also cannot do:

  • Read this post, as it would make them winners of the “I read that” award that all readers of this article are awarded
  • Have funerals unless they died in some really cool and/or unique way, as, like birthdays, funerals should be reserved for the badasses only
  • Get married, unless they rescued their spouse-to-be or otherwise achieved something that deserves it, like haggling for a really great price on the venue, cake, flowers, or so on
  • Take advantage of income tax deductions or credits
  • Partake of the post-orgy group-cuddling (unless they orgasmed more than the average number of orgasms)
  • Celebrate Christmas or Easter or really any holy day, unless they have done something to earn it, dammit (I’m sure the Easter Egg Hunts they put on for their kids include spikepits and other hazards)
  • Same for Independence Day: unless you fought in the Revolutionary War, no fireworks, hotdogs, or s’mores for you!
  • Drink cocktails that have garnishes (self-explanatory)
  • Give their kids tooth-fairy money
  • Wear any sports paraphernalia from any team they were not an integral part of (this includes political signage, etc.)
  • Accept the “I Voted” sticker, unless you did a really kick-ass job of voting, I guess

And so on. Let’s call these freeloaders out! Always keeping the extra soda that accidentally fell out of the soda machine, like they earned it. Always parking in an empty parking space without even having to drive around for hours, like it’s their birthright.

But seriously, there are a ton of no-effort trophies in life, and it’s a bit silly to only clamp down on the ones given to children and young adults while ignoring all the others. If you want to be macho, grow a mustache. If you want your children to achieve something, help them by giving them opportunities to fail and the freedom to choose what to try.

Anyway. Enough words wasted on that silly idea. Congratulations for reading this post. You did it! I hope you will keep reading things (written by me or not) in the future! Good job, winner of the “I read that” award (no monetary value, offer void where prohibited, bestowal of award may not be used as evidence that you actually read anything, etc.)! For a copy of your award, print this article out, and scribble your name on it and have it framed or gilded or something cool. You can even hold yourself a little ceremony where you give it to yourself and make a speech and drink champagne. Then later, you can hold an ethics hearing into the allegations you didn’t really read this article, and you can have a committee decide whether you can keep the award. Then you can go on an apology tour where you try to reassure everyone concerned that you messed up, okay, you get it, but you have changed, in your heart, which is the place where change is the most meaningful, and you deserve a second chance. You don’t have to, but you could do all of that. It would be quite an achievement if you did.


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