MVP awards have somehow been crowded out of the whole “should kids get trophies?” debate. I’ve read many articles discussing the pros and cons of giving trophies to every player on a youth sports team, but I would like to take that discussion a step further, and ask the question: At what age should we start giving out MVP awards to kids in sports?
MVP Awards: When is Your Child Ready?
There is a time when small children playing sports are not ready for MVP awards. It’s probably the same age when we don’t keep score at their little league T-ball games or their pee-wee soccer.
When kids are small, youth sports should only be about: fun, exercise, teamwork, fun, learning a few skills, and fun. In this atmosphere, the emphasis should not be on how well a child performs.
Remember when your kids started school? Whether it was daycare or preschool or kindergarten–they didn’t start out getting awards for their high grade point averages. They started out learning the basics: how to learn, how to listen, how to get along with others, how to share, etc.
In the same way, the early years of youth sports are the daycare or the pre-school of sports. It’s a time to learn the basics: how to play on a team, how to follow the directions of a coach, how to have fun while exercising.
There will be plenty of years for your child to work towards earning an MVP award. It should not be given to kids in sports until they understand these concepts:
- Hard work and sacrifice produce rewards. MVP awards are not handed to athletes who are lazy.
- MVP awards are given to players who are the most valuable to their team, not to the most popular, or the most flashy.
- An MVP award does not make you a better person than your teammates. It just means your contribution to the team is noteworthy.
- No MVP can earn an award without the help of teammates.
MVP Awards: Let’s Not Rush it
Let your child enjoy sports for a few years before putting the added pressure of MVP awards on him.
I’d suggest that MVP awards should not be given to children under age 10-12. The longer you can put it off the better. That still gives them several years of playing sports to earn awards and keeps them focused during the early years of sports on playing their best and working as a team, not on “how well I am doing” or “how many points I scored.”
Staying away from early MVP awards will help our children learn the importance of WE over ME. As athletes get older, that unselfish and team player attitude will make your child a true standout on his team.
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