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Why Have Prize-Givings?

Is it time to scrap end of season prize-giving's?

Most sports associations have them. Most teams have them. Schools have them, and even workplaces have them. But why? Prize-givings for kids looks like an age-old tradition that once again mimics adult ideals, but are they fit for purpose or do they even serve a purpose?

At some schools, children as young as 5 are called onto stage at end of year prize-giving's to receive academic ‘excellence’ awards. That’s right - 5 years old! So a kid walks into school and 3 or 4 months later is acknowledged as being more intellectually superior to their classmates, purely due to talents they are born with and / or the environment they have grown up in. And the trend that normally occurs… that kid gets that academic award year after year. How ridiculous. But this prevails in junior sport everywhere if we look close enough.

Sport prize-giving's are often shaped to award kids who are the most physically gifted. Most valuable player, sportsperson of the year, back of the year, forward of the year, top goal scorer etc... Players who win these awards score all the points, tries, goals. They are generally more physically able as they are born with superior strength, speed, agility, size etc…

Awards that are tailored to acknowledging ‘talent’ means we are doing a disservice to our kids. Research will show that we need to praise / acknowledge effort over talent, if we want to foster a growth mindset, enhance work ethic and build resilience, so why do we continue to praise talent?

And how about the poor coaches who have spent a whole season building a collaborative team culture, enhanced essential life skills and values, fostered growth and development in all players. They then have to choose who is good and who isn’t. And as most coaches have their own kids in the team they are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Do I pick my kid? They probably deserve it, but how will that look? Argggh! And of course the parents are out with their knives (and phones to take a photo) at the end of the season, with their own opinions on who should get the awards. The coach then has to mediate with parents and justify the awards and process.

Clubs and schools extend huge amounts of time, effort, stress and money pulling prize-givings together. They can be a great way to bring the community together, but what else could be done? Prize-givings need a rethink. The amount of time and effort coaches spend trying to decide who gets the awards is wasted… Imagine if we invested all this time into coaching better / creating engaging practice environments. What could the result be?


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