Not Everyone Gets a Trophy

Life teaches some hard lessons. The sooner we can learn and apply these lessons, the better our lives will be. At least that is what I am teaching my kids.

This weekend my son learned a very hard lesson. Not everyone gets a trophy.

He is 10 and has poured the last six months of his life into competing in a robotics league. He and his other four teammates, all the same age, competed against kids 9-15 years old. In the first regional competition a few months ago they swept the competition, beating out middle schoolers and teams that had been together multiple years in his team’s first year of eligibility. The win gave them great pride, lots of awards and a berth to the State Championship.

At the state competition, things didn’t come so easily. Many of these kids came from science academies, private schools or were just more experienced. His team performed admirably and finished seventh out of 56.

During the awards ceremony, some judge’s choice awards were given out to several teams for doing this or that. His team didn’t receive such an award. No trophy, no certificate. They received the exact same thing as the last place team.

It has been a hard pill for him to swallow. He is struggling with the why, the subjectivity in judging, and the lack of respect. He feels slighted.

I’ve tried to guide his thought process as best I can. I’ve lived his disappointment many times in my life. The most important question I asked him was one I often ask myself.

“If you knew for certain that all of your hard work would result in no awards, no recognition, no scholarships and no trophy, would you still do it?”

Therein lies how I define passion. What do you do for the joy of doing, not the joy of reward?

As a kayak angler, do you fish in tournaments for the hope of gainful returns or for the true joy of competing? Are all of your attempts to educate newcomers to the sport laced with product advertisements so you can check the boxes on an agreement or can you recommend the right thing for a person rather than just your thing? Do we offer to help rig out a new guy’s kayak since we’ve done it before and he has boat hole anxiety? And if we do, are we expecting payment?

Passion is knowing not everyone gets a trophy and doing it anyway. Passion is putting forth your best effort and letting the chips fall where they may. Passion is not regretting time spent growing something for the greater good.

Kayak fishing has a lot of passionate anglers. I hope that fire burns long and hot into the future. May the new guys see the passion over commercialism, understand that hard work from the community makes us better and sometimes, you will come up short of your goals.

A job well done is a pretty good trophy. 

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