The truth is they are. Students and children are getting taught that it's ok to not try because they will still get a trophy at the end of it all. Students are getting taught that they will get a prize with any little effort they put in, it's not fair for the students who actually do try, nor is it fair to themselves. In the long run, it is only damaging them.
Getting a trophy should have to be earned. It shouldn't be given out because we feel bad for students who maybe try less or have less skill then someone who is skilled and deserves the prize. It's not fair to the student. It is just teaching them that the world is all butterflies and rainbows, when in reality it's not that way. The world is just teaching kids that it's ok not to try your hardest and accept being just ‘ok’.
I understand the opposing side to this. Kids often need to have a reward so they will keep participating. It keeps them active in sports, academics, or clubs. It helps them build their self-worth and teaches them to love themselves.
There is a line though. Giving a 4 year old a participation award is great because they don’t know any better, but giving it to a high schooler is just plain silly. They don’t need to be babied when they are close to graduation. They have to learn somehow that their life can not be handed to them on a silver platter all the time.
One of the worst organizations known for this is 4-H. They will always give everyone in the ring or competition a ribbon. Even if you are disqualified you get a ribbon. When a student has a Barrow (neutered male pig) these pigs are usually very mean , then the judge will approach them and send them out of the ring with a white ribbon. Every kid that gets a red ribbon or a white ribbon know that it’s not a prize ribbon. They know it’s a participation ribbon; you can see it on their faces. They may work very hard on their project but maybe it’s not what the judge wanted to see, so they get a red ribbon. They shouldn't get a red ribbon, but instead learn what they did wrong and how they can fix it next year.
However, students shouldn't have to be looking for that in a competition. That's the parent’s or guardian’s job. The students shouldn't have to feel like they need a participation award so someone will notice them, because in reality, they know it's a participation reward and it means nothing. Our world is just fueling the thought that ribbons helps them and makes them have more self worth.
Our world is always changing, and will keep changing; that's why it is possible this silly practice may end. It will take a lot, but it is best for the kids. They don't need be fed false hope every time they accept a participation reward.