AWARDS & TROPHIES
"You get what you earn." - Paul Konerko
We award trophies for Most Improved Player and the Pete Gray Tenacity Award for the player who demonstrates the most grit and fortitude.
The league does not give participation trophies.
Within the past 25 years, recognizing participation over accomplishment somehow became the norm. I read that over 30% of high schools nationwide no longer name a valedictorian in the belief that doing so would make the other graduates feel bad, so the top student who worked hard for four years gets no recognition. That's ridiculous and contrary to meritocracy. Over many years coaching and raising children, we’ve given this subject much consideration. We don’t give participation trophies for the following reasons, listed from least to most important:
Cost. The League's mission is providing baseball opportunities to deserving kids regardless of family circumstances. Essentially, helping kids who can’t afford to participate. This season, our plans were stymied by the Police Athletic League and other organizations that provide services to disadvantaged youth remaining closed due to Covid fears. Otherwise, we would have enabled many kids to play for free. Buying even the lowest cost trophies would reduce the number of needy kids who can play, and would raise the registration fee for all families.
Memories. Every player has memories of the fun they had and the improvement they made, and their uniform and team photo are much stronger mementos than a plastic trophy for participating. We often underestimate kids’ awareness. They realize it’s something everyone gets and it doesn’t signify accomplishment. A personal experience: on the final day of the season when my sons were 10, they received tiny little medals the size of a half dollar for making it to the championship, and then they got a foot-tall participation trophy along with everyone else in the league. I said nothing, then watched them and a teammate walk over to the dugout and toss their participation trophies in the trash can. On the way home, I asked them why and they said “Dad, those trophies were because you paid for us to sign up. They don’t mean anything.” Then they told me, in the blunt terms of 10 year olds, how dumb it was that every kid in the league got a big trophy just for playing and the championship teams got tiny little medals for accomplishing something. Kids know when they’ve actually done something worthy of a trophy (and if not... they should).
Values. Our nonprofit was originally founded to help deserving high school student-athletes use baseball to get to college. The Youth League was founded once the need became clear. Regardless of age, a key element is helping players set goals, identify what they must do to reach them, learning the right skills, working/practicing hard, and having confidence in the work they’ve done to perform when it matters. That applies to anything… sports, school, SATs, a job. We firmly believe that self-esteem is built from working to accomplish something, not from being told you accomplished something when you know you didn’t. Showing up, participating, and finishing what you start are expected, not rewarded. If everyone gets a trophy, then no one learns how to lose and recover from it. If that sounds old fashioned, well… good.
We understand that some might think not giving participation trophies is insensitive or hurts kids’ feelings. Not that long ago, there were no participation trophies yet kids played sports and grew up fine. Yes, most leagues give them now but that doesn't mean they should. Compared to other area leagues, kids in our league receive more positive instruction, get more playing time, play more positions, and as a result we believe they have more fun. If a participation trophy is important for you, then you should register your child for another league.
The North County Youth Baseball League is program of North Palm Beach Baseball, Inc, a Florida nonprofit not affiliated with any municipality or other baseball program.