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Should Youth Players Get End of Season Trophies?

The end of the fall soccer season has arrived for my 1st Grade Columbus Crew Team. The girls had a great season filled with lots of goals scored and new friendships. An added bonus to the end of the season was the awarding of the Soccer Association Patch to each player at the last session. The Association President made a speech thanking the players, coaches, and parents for their support throughout the season (which in New England was filled with sunshine, rain, puddles, and more rain). The soccer patch which each player received was a great gesture from the program and made me think about the award debate that exists in youth sport today.

Over the years I have heard all sides of the awards debate from those who believe all players should be equally recognized, to those who believe MVPs should be announced for each team, to the banning of any end of season acknowledgements. Surely there are some challenges that our youth sport administrators must manage when considering any type of awards for their programs.

The Great Debate:

  • If awards are expected, will athletes just play for the awards?
  • Should athletes be motivated by intrinsic factors (the desire to achieve) versus extrinsic factors (winning a trophy)?
  • Should only the top athletes get awards?
  • Should participation be the award for playing soccer?
  • Why should youth sport associations motivate athletes through giving awards?

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