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Children's Sports Days: Should Everyone Get a Medal Just for Participating?

If you've been handed the task of organising a children's sports day for a school or community group, there is a certain question that might arise. Should everyone get a medal simply for participating? The matter is certainly open to some debate. Does a blanket acknowledgement devalue the achievements of the individual or team who actually won? Does an acknowledgement of participation even have any benefit? There are a few points that need to be considered.

The Ages of the Participants

Older children are more likely to understand the outcome of a sporting event, in that they understand the skills that were needed to be victorious. The person or team who won displayed the highest level of skills that were necessary in order to win. They perhaps trained harder, pushed themselves just that little bit further, and were accordingly rewarded. Those who did not win should be satisfied that they did their best (in theory, anyway). To this end, an acknowledgement of participation might not be necessary for older children. Younger children, on the other hand, might not be placated by the knowledge that they tried. They might also want a tangible acknowledgement of their efforts, whether it's with trophies, medals, or medallions.

The Budget

If it has been decided that a tangible acknowledgement of participation is to be awarded, then you will need to consider your options. The budget for your event might make it impossible for everyone to be awarded something such as a trophy or medallion. You can certainly enquire with your intended supplier about the cost of bulk purchasing however many trophies or medallions will be needed, but it might simply be beyond your means. In this instance, consider a certificate of participation. It can be something that is laminated and durable, allowing the child to hang it on their wall if desired. This is a cost-effective way of acknowledging participation.


If your budget does allow for individual trophies, medals, or medallions, you need to impose some sort of differentiation. The trophies or medals for the winners should look different from those who were awarded something simply for participating. This can be important to emphasise that while everyone is receiving some sort of acknowledgement, there were still those amongst the participants who were the winners.

An acknowledgement of participation is not always necessary, but if you feel that it might be for your event, then it's important to ensure that you stick to your budget and devise a system which allows for the winners to be extra proud of their participation.