There is an ongoing debate on whether participation or finisher’s prizes should be awarded in sports, especially for kids. Many people who oppose this “everyone wins” concept want to teach our youth that sometimes we don’t win. Sometimes, someone is better than us. Many parents want kids to understand the disappointment of losing because yes, in life, we lose a lot.
I am not necessarily going to discuss team sports here. I don’t have any children participating in them; therefore, no personal experience in that department. I do personally participate in one sport that gives out medals to everyone and I am going to explain why these medals matter to me. This perspective is why I support participation trophies (smaller than the winners’, of course).
I feel like I’ve shared my story dozens of times, but in case this is your first time hearing it, I’ll give you the abridged version. I grew up athletically challenged. I had two brothers in soccer and baseball and loved other sports like golf, football, and basketball. My best friend in high school was on the volleyball team. And I didn’t do any of it. I hated watching sports. I hated seeing sports. I hated moving my body in any strenuous way at all. (Seriously.) Gym class was the bane of my existence.
In 2012, I suffered from severe postpartum depression and post traumatic stress disorder after the emergency delivery of my twins two months before their due date. I had a therapist who suggested that physical activity would not only help my body feel more like me but also help clear my head. So I started running. I still laugh about how against sports I was and how much I love running now. I started with a couch to 5k program. I ran the three workouts from week one about four times, with a couple weeks between each week. I quit that many times. It was the time I didn’t quit that I remember the most, the time I first ran two miles, literally the farthest I’d ever run before.
The first time I ran a race and earned a medal at the finish, I questioned it. I was the second to last person to finish the race. I most certainly did NOT win if you look at the work that every other person put in, but I mostly definitely beat myself. I won against the part of me that said, “I hate sports.” I worked harder that morning than I had been working on all of my training and set a personal record. So sure, I didn’t place but I absolutely earned my medal.
Since then, I have gone on to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia and fought against the odds to continue to do what I now love: running. And I keep earning medals, not winning medals but finisher’s medals. Because I finished every race I got a medal for. I beat myself. And this fall, I will put this dedication and mindset to the test as I earn my medal for running my first marathon. Every one of these medals represents my dedication during training, my hard work, my drive, and my desire. These medals represent that I am doing it.
Just like those little kids who play hard all season long, there are people better than us, a lot better, but that doesn’t mean we lost anything. We didn’t win against the other teams, but we did win against ourselves.Category: Featured
Tags: finisher's medals