Playing sports is a great escape and way to remain active no matter what age you are. However, students of the “millennial generation” (our generation) seem to have a serious problem with it when it comes to being too competitive. Since the dawn of time, man has competed with one another, whether it be in sport, mating, or even survival. Why is it that competing to win is so frowned upon nowadays?

There are quite a few contributing factors to the lack of motivation in this era of students and young adults. According to The Washington Post, 68% of Americans say millennials are entitled, and 58% of millennials agree. In the average workplace, this particular group of people need constant reassurance in the form of verbal reassurance or an incentive for optimal performance. This batch of people have been deemed “the participation award generation” because of this.

Sports can be huge parts of people’s identities, and some have become cultures that they eventually adopt. This can make people feel a part of something bigger, and a good way to fit in, especially if they excel in it. Parents especially disapprove of their children competing at high levels, saying that it is no longer fun and their child does not have a chance to make a certain team due to the stiff competition. What’s wrong with competition? In high school, students are competing for much more than sports teams. Universities and colleges don’t accept mediocrity, neither do basketball, soccer, football or any sports coaches. They all want to win, and to win at the highest level, the best of the best players are needed. If a minor does not make a team, regardless of trying their best, they must realize that sometimes your best is not enough. There’s a lot that a person can learn from their failures. Humans learn from their mistakes, and that is how it’s always been. Failure can also build grit and resilience within a person, motivating them to do better. Losing is okay, and should be accepted.
When the kids of this generation inevitably enter adulthood, and haven’t experienced failure in some sort of way, they’ll expect a reward for showing up. When doing what is expected of you is rewarded, it can create multiple under achieving individuals and potentially dangerous learning or working environments. Higher performance and motivation should be encouraged when basic tasks or achievements have been accomplished rather than the hardest working person receiving the same compensation as the average Joe who did little to nothing to deserve it. Earning your accolades as opposed to it being given to you also teaches much better morals and values that you simply cannot get from doing the bare minimum.

The participation award generation is not solely a direct result of millennials. The parents of the previous generation are significant contributors to the current state of today’s youth. A type of parenting known as, “helicopter parenting” has taken charge of raising a large chunk of the current youth. This particular parenting style includes constant, 24/7 surveillance and protection for their child. Now, there’s nothing wrong with being overprotective of your child and ensuring their safety, but no one said losing was dangerous. Failure should not be considered something to protect your child from. Everyone needs to learn from their mistakes, because we humans make mistakes until we die.

Further generations of parents should take initiative in raising their offspring to grow up valuing success and hard work so that we may have a more balanced society. Instead of quitting sports forever or giving up, evaluate how you can improve the next time, so you can feel proud of yourself when you ace the next tryout or win the next game. Not everyone is the same, and that’s okay. Not everyone will make the team of their choice, hard work and dedication need to be put in to achieve these things. Can’t we go back to competing to win?