Athletes are constantly working hard to prove their potential, always attending practice and balancing their priorities, but what happens when they don’t win? Athletes are always taught that when they work hard, it will pay off, but that is hard to believe when despite trying their hardest, the outcome is always the same; they never perform better than their competitors and never receive a medal.
Medals are awarded to athletes who the judges believe are the “best” in their category. Usually in diving or gymnastics, the top 12 would receive medals, and everyone else would be given score sheets. In track and field, the top five would earn a medal. In team sports, like soccer or basketball, a team is given a medal when they have won leagues or championships. All the other athletes who did not win are dismissed, despite how hard they had worked that season.
All athletes should receive medals because it boosts self-confidence and gives them something to work for. Athletes do not want to work hard for months —and maybe even years— to attend a competition and come home empty handed.
They may lose all hope because today, competitors believe if an athlete does not come home with a medal, they are not considered competition or a “big deal.” When an athlete comes home empty-handed, it’s discouraging. It tells the athlete that they did not try hard enough, or did not put enough effort into their practices like their competitors did. It makes them feel that they are a disappointment. Maybe the athlete had a bad day, but they pushed through the competition.
The athlete who did not receive the medal then has no morale and they feel that they let themselves, their coaches and at times, their team down. The result can range from not consistently practicing to their full potential to something as severe quitting the sport.
Medals should not only signify winning but also signify a job well done, on and off the field, court or gymnasium. All competitors should receive a medal for all the blood, sweat and tears they put into their sport.
Despite just participating in a competitive event and having good sportsmanship, every team is likely to have their eyes on winning. It may seem unfair that someone tries their hardest to win a trophy and doesn’t, but losing should not bring them down. Also, it may be fair for everyone who participated to receive a medal, but having the knowledge of receiving one would not motivate players to win and earn it.
In sports like track and field, in most cases, the top five finishers in each event would earn a medal. However, the feeling of coming in sixth place may feel rather spirit-breaking. The runner would think it is unfair because they were close, but accepting a loss is also a display of good sportsmanship. Granting a medal to everyone would not give a competitor the sense of winning or losing and the medal would lose most of its value.
From a winner’s perspective, earning a medal or trophy comes with the joy of knowing that hard work has paid off. Teams and individuals train for countless hours so that when the time comes, they can compete and win. Although there are those who are unfortunate and go home empty-handed, they should not frown and let a loss hurt them, but should use the competition as a whole to do better next time. The concept of a medal is to reward the best at an event and for those are not “the best,” it serves as an incentive for them to try harder and eventually earn what they deserve. If everyone received an award, those who came in first place would not feel any different from those who came in last.
The excitement of medals and trophies either make or break an athlete and other competitive performers. However, these awards build positively onto one’s sportsmanship and character. Medal recipients usually remain humble because winners were also once losers. Those who do not receive medals should want to do better rather than getting upset for falling short from a medal. Not everyone should receive a medal because it would decrease the competitive spirit, be less of a learning experience and lessen the motivation to win.