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North Carolina Republicans Are Now Trying To Ban Participation Trophies In Youth Sports

One of the bill's sponsors, state Sen. Bobby Hanig, claimed the ban is needed because 'we’re not teaching our be prepared for life.'

YouTube screenshot of Bobby Hanig; Three children in soccer uniforms holding a trophy
NC House Republicans/YouTube; Heide Benser/Getty Images

A bill filed by three North Carolina Republicans seeks to prohibit local government-run youth sports or recreation groups from awarding participation trophies.

The proposed legislation—titled “An Act to Prohibit Awards In Youth Recreation Activities of Local Governments Based Solely on Participation"—restricts awards to those based on "performance achievements."

The bill, sponsored by state Senators Timothy D. Moffitt, Eddie D. Settle, and Bobby Hanig, would require approval from the state Senate, House, and Governor Roy Cooper to become law.

Hanig said the motivation behind the bill is “past the sports,” explaining that it's important to teach children to "be prepared for life" and failure.

He added:

“When kids are growing up they’re being taught it’s OK to just be OK. You don’t have to be the best.”

You can watch a local news report about the proposed legislation below.

The proposed ban has received criticism from some, such as North Carolina state Democratic Representative Deb Butler, who argued that the bill does not impact "competitive athletics," but rather affects children.

In an interview with the Asheville Citizen Times, Butler emphasized the importance of creating a sense of community and belonging for everyone, rather than just acknowledging the fastest or the strongest:

“Competition is fine, and acknowledging who ran the fastest or threw the ball the farthest is all good."
"But why in the world wouldn’t [we] want everyone to have that sense of community and belonging."
"It’s preposterous and a colossal waste of time."

Many shared similar sentiments while mocking the proposed legislation online.

The concept of participation trophies has long been a source of concern among conservatives in the United States.

While it's typical for kids to receive awards at the end of events or games, the idea of rewarding children simply for participating, rather than winning, has been debated for decades.

The conservative outrage toward participation trophies has proven so strong that The Atlantic once dedicated an entire article to them, observing participation trophies have "become a caricature for the Millennial stereotype, symbolizing a generation some believe to be so coddled that merely showing up is grounds for an accolade."