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The Participation Trophy Paradox

Updated: Sep 19, 2023

Guilty as charged. I’ll go ahead and save you the time and judgement. I’m guilty of proclaiming this generation the “everyone gets a trophy generation.” Come on. Don’t act like I’m the only one.

Some of you are in the same boat as I am. You can’t stand the idea that everyone gets a trophy. We call it the participation trophy. Then there are others of you that are guilty of handing out the trophy to everyone.

My philosophy growing up was this: Second place is just the first place loser. I’m not saying that is necessarily the right attitude to have but it’s how I played sports in high school. Part of my philosophy is founded in sports.

I mean most people don’t remember who lost the championship game. You remember who won. That goes for every sport at every level. Unless you’re a fan of a particular team, you don’t remember where they finish unless it’s on top.

I will also be the first to point out that I’m glad God does not look at this the same way I do. If He did, then none of us would ever make it to heaven.

Romans 3:23 says this:

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

Think about that. There is nobody perfect. We have all fallen short of God’s glory. Doesn’t matter how perfect you think you are; you have fallen short. That means if God had the same attitude as I did, He would proclaim all of us as losers.

That’s not what He does or did.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

- John 3:16–17

It’s such a simple verse and it’s one of the first verses we usually learn as Christians. Regardless of our past failures and our sins, this passage reminds us that Jesus came so that we could have eternal life. We just have to believe in Him. Verse 17 reminds us that we are not condemned because of Christ coming to earth but instead we are saved through Him and what He did at Calvary.

So, the world (including myself) does not think everyone should get a trophy and be a winner. Thankfully God thinks everyone deserves His salvation.

Pastor Brandon's note: Greg Higgins, a cfParis member and volunteer, wrote this post. Greg moonlights as a sports commentator locally and regionally. He is an engineer by trade. Greg volunteers in the Tech room on Sundays by running cameras and helps inspire students that the Gospel changes everything on Wednesday nights. He is also, un-sheepishly, a Bills fan. I know, I know, but we are desperate for volunteers, lol.

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