John Stevens

John Stevens, Appeal-Democrat Sports Editor.

Earlier this week I was at the gym listening to a playlist titled “2000s pop.” Being a ’90s kid, I couldn’t have been more motivated to get fit as I was listening to some dare I say… classics?

All of sudden “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” by Kelly Clarkson came on and I started to ponder… it’s kind of cliche, but man this song is really a great way to go about challenges in life. 

It seems today that a lot of time we have a soft spot for seeing kids fails and want to greet them with open arms. While this is definitely not a bad thing, does it really benefit the child in the long run?

Back in 2015 Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker, James Harrison, took to social media to talk about how he feels his kids should be celebrated. 

“I came home to find out that my boys received two trophies for nothing, participation trophies! While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them till the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy,” Harrison wrote on his Instagram. 

It’s true. He has a valid point. 

How are today’s youth going to take failure when they’re adults if they have constantly been celebrated their entire upbringing?

The hard part is that there’s a very thin line for most adults, whether they are coaches or parents, in dealing with their child losing a game or contest. The adults want to make sure the kid knows that they haven’t let anyone down. I completely understand that. Mental health is a huge problem in today’s adolescents. According to, suicide is the number three cause of death for youth between the ages of 10 and 24. 

With that being said, there has to be away to be supportive yet stern in the way of making sure a child knows how to A. take defeat and B. cope with it in a healthy manner. 

For instance, if a kid goes out to play in a championship game and gives it their all, but comes up just shy, maybe instead of immediately greeting them with “It’s ok, here’s a medal for trying super hard,” we could start saying things like “Sometimes you can play your heart out and it still doesn’t fall your way kid, but I’m proud of you for not quitting.”

It’s not difficult to balance a dose of real life with sincerity, but it is hard to manage your kids entitlement as they begin to grow older.

Like Ricky Bobby’s dad said: If you ain’t first… you’re last.


Recommended for you