No Participation Trophies

By Christopher Pate



LynToya and I enjoy watching and supporting the kids in sports. This season the sport was basketball. There were some intense games in play and I will speak of one game in particular. Cameron and his team were going up against another team in which one of their players were highly skilled. The game was close, bucket after bucket was exchanged, bodies hitting the floor for loose balls. The type of game that brings out the best in the kids. The clock was winding down. Cameron’s team was down one point. The ball swung to Cameron and he put up a shot. Swoosh!! They were up one point with five seconds left to play. The opposing team got the ball threw it to their best player and he drove to the hole went for the layup and missed the shot. However, there was a foul on the play. Two shots. The first shot is good. Tie game. The second shot falls in. The other team wins.  

Cameron came back to the sideline furious which was ok with me . No one enjoying not winning. However, his reasons of blaming the referees and acting like he deserved to win the game was what I took an issue with as a point that needed to be addressed. I explained to hit that the last play was not the reason that they did not win nor the referees. I told him that he had an opportunity to draw fouls all throughout the game and to take ownership of what he could have done better. I would give him the space to be upset however, use this to think of how he could improve his skills. The thing that I wanted to leave him with was that he must contribute to his own development. The feeling of deserving something without working for it is a pitfall for continued failure.  

Let’s take a look at the word deserve or “de-serve.” Yes, serve is in that word however, whenever we add “de” in front of any word, we lessen the value of that word and ourselves. Examples depression vs expression, depreciation vs appreciation, deserving vs serving. I think we get the hint. The problem is that we live in a participation trophy environment where we a teaching ourselves and the next generation that we can have what we want without serving or contributing to ourselves and others. The truth of the matter is we know it doesn’t work that way deep in spirit. Whenever we make anything about us we are doing a disservice to ourselves and those around us. We celebrate the individual but inherently understand that rewards have to earned though service.  


Booker T Washington illustrates this point in very simple terms. 

Up From Slavery
By Booker T. Washington

“A race, like an individual, lifts itself up by lifting others up.” 

I encourage everyone to read his book. It is a timeless classic



Principle of Service


  • Rewards have to be earned in service and contribution to others 

  • Any expectation of rewards without putting in the work is deceiving oneself

  • The word deserve is sure to take a person further from their goals than any other idea.  



Reflection Moments

This week think I mean really think where believe we deserve something whether in a dreams, relationships, or career. Acknowledge that is not serving us well. 

Once we acknowledge the areas let’s write down some ideas of how can better serve right now in those areas.  

Have a great reflection week!