Everyone’s A Winner (I beg to differ)


Not Everyone's a Winner | Denver Metro Moms Blog

The grit and the grind of the Denver Broncos’ battle to reach Super Bowl 50 perfectly exemplifies the determination and will it takes to be a winner. Kia presented my favorite commercial of the football season. In it, Dad sees the “participation” label on his son’s trophy after his undefeated football season. He removes the plaque, takes out a sharpie and writes “Champs.”

Exemplary effort should be recognized and kids also must learn that every event or performance does NOT deserve a tangible reward.

Sometimes we put forth a huge amount of effort and we still fail to earn the desired outcome. We must teach our children to persist past disappointment. Losing or falling short is an opportunity to gain insight into weakness. In Super Bowl 48, the Denver Broncos, after getting trounced 43-8, rebuilt a team founded on a strong defense and 2 years later they will return to the Super Bowl as strong contenders. They identified a weakness in loss and quickly changed course and corrected.

Sometimes the reward is intrinsic, and yet, try to find a fundraiser today that doesn’t have some sort of tiered reward system attached to it. Selling Girl Scout cookies even has its array of toy rewards that accompany increasing cookie sales. When I as a Girl Scout in the 80’s, I sold cookies because I knew that we would earn money for the troop. That was reward enough. What happened to the days?

Today everything must be incentivized with a prize! And kids EXPECT a reward even for the smallest amount of effort. I mean, is there really any gratification in receiving a 6th place ribbon on Field Day? And how does 1st place differ from 6th place when everyone is receiving a ribbon?

In the “everyone’s a winner culture,” there is a sense of entitlement. I can show up, put forth a small amount of effort and I’ll still be rewarded. If loss is rewarded, is there really any reason for improvement?

Not everyone is a competitor and that is OK. Some people excel at working behind the scenes- “it takes all types,” as the saying goes. Can we please start to use losing as a teachable moment? And can we please start to teach our children that the rewards for charity events like Jump Rope for Heart are “helping kids who don’t have a strong heart and making your heart stronger too,” not collectible puppies on a string. Teaching our kids to persist past disappointment makes the victory so much sweeter.

What happens to all those participation trophies and ribbons, after all? Do you think your kids will remember what they “participated in” 10 or 20 years later? Not likely, but they will treasure the championship trophies and recognition of excellence. If it’s not sports, then help your child find his/her thing. Maybe it’s baking or sewing or dog training or reading. Everyone has a unique way to make a mark in this world. We will serve our kids better if we allow them to stumble and stammer their way to discovering their talents. And everyone will become a winner in their own time, if that’s what they desire.

Do you have a story to share about how you have helped your child persist through difficulty to become a winner?


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In the journey of life, Gina would choose a boat to traverse the days of her life. Boating for her is analogous with the way we choose to ride the waves of each passing day and how we weave in and out of the wakes of others. Gina grew up the youngest of 10 children in Indiana and boating on Lake Monroe in Southern Indiana with her family was a staple activity of every summer weekend. The mountains of Colorado seemed a good tradeoff for the Indiana lakes and cornfields, and she blazed a trail West after graduating from Indiana University. In Colorado, she has spent the last 20 years establishing herself as an expert in the local fitness industry as a personal trainer, Yoga teacher and Fitness Director at two parks and recreation agencies. Her marriage to her artist husband in 2003 stoked her creative fires and with the birth of each of her 3 children (ages 12, 7 and 5), she discovered her own innate wisdom and power during pregnancy. Gina believes that a woman can be at her strongest and most aligned with her intuition during pregnancy. She desires to teach every pregnant woman how to navigate the waves of pregnancy with grace. This passion gave birth to her pre and postnatal education business, Power of Pregnancy . She currently certifies fitness professionals to teach and lead prenatal fitness classes and private sessions. In the next few years, she hopes that Power of Pregnancy will be a recognized brand of prenatal fitness classes.


  1. Gina! I don’t disagree, I think it’s challenging because our culture prizes certain athletic prowess so highly it leaves other kids feeling like if they can’t be a part of this then they aren’t a part of anything. I think if there was a value of academic achievements, sewing as you mentioned etc, we wouldn’t have seen the same trend. Maybe we would have, but to be special in our current culture you must fit in a very narrow box. How do we expand that so that kids can actually feel as though their individual and unique contributions actually matter when so much of our culture tells them otherwise?

    • Thanks for your comment Dani. It’s up to us as parents to EXPAND the box way open and change what is prized and valued. And help our kids keep in perspective that very few will ever excel and reach the top in athletics.


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