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January 22, 2019
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What would it take to change your mind about awarding participation? A compelling argument, or do you need indisputable facts? Let’s look at an issue that’s been debated as long as there have been contests and winners and losers.

I actually believe in giving participation trophies, and not just because I am an awards provider. It actually makes good sense because participation is a big deal.

Some believe that we should only award the best, the competition’s winners.  If we award the participant we are sending the wrong message – that everyone is a winner just for showing up.

But, isn’t this true in much of life? Isn’t it the showing up and participating that counts? No one, not even the youngest of children, when handed a second place or a participation trophy after losing a contest, thinks they won the contest. But they can still feel proud and appreciated by the event’s planners for showing up and making it a contest. Think about it.  If only the best team shows up, there is no contest.

A well thought out awards plan, even one including participation trophies, can serve multiple purposes.

  1. It recognizes great skill and achievement for the champions
  2. All participants are thanked and appreciated for participating and making it a contest.
  3. Everyone goes home with a token or a gift, a reminder that they participated in that event so they remember it and want to come back. (This is how great event planners market their events. They send everyone home with something that has the event’s name on it.)

In February, one of the biggest single events that we provide awards for, the American Birkebeiner®, sends everyone, all 10,000 participants, home with a participation trophy – a medal or year pin signifying that they finished the the Birkie for the first or the 45th time. This is one of the reasons, I believe, that it is one of the greatest events on snow and it sells out every year!

Participation matters!

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