Former Olympian and LA Galaxy soccer star Cobi Jones breaks down the value of learning from your losses – and the damage done by the current "everyone gets a trophy" culture – in PragerU's latest video, “Trophies Are For Winning.”
"Participation trophies. I'm not a fan," Jones says. "They’re bad for kids. Bad for parents. Bad for society. Other than that, they’re okay."
He continues, "Don't get me wrong. I love any kind of organized competition for kids. I lived and breathed baseball, basketball, football and soccer growing up. If there was a sport to be played, I played it. And never once did anybody ever tell me that winning was not important or that showing up was all that mattered."
But, he notes, kids are now getting a "different message."
"Losing? No big deal. Showing up? That deserves a trophy," he says. "Wow. What an awful thing to tell a kid. Glad my parents or coaches never said it to me. If they had, I’m sure I never would’ve become a pro soccer player."
Jones discusses his career from playing sports in high school, practicing hard to play for the UCLA Bruins college team, eventually becoming an Olympian, and later becoming an LA Galaxy soccer star.
"I had to work harder. Or, I had to give up," he says. "And I didn’t want to give up. This taught me an important lesson: If you don’t put in the work, you won’t get ahead. And not getting ahead? Well, that feels awful. So, put in the work. Or go home. So, I put in the work. I pushed myself, not to do my best – because who can possibly know what 'their best' is? – but to be better. And better.
"But participation trophies, everybody-is-the-valedictorian, and let’s-all-pat-each-other-on-the-back awards communicate a different message," he continues. "They tell you that losing doesn't matter – it matters. They tell you that competition is, at best, not important, and at worst, dangerous. I wonder how my soccer career would have turned out if I’d grown up with these ideas in my head."
Check out the video below: