There Should Only Be a First Place Trophy

There should only be a ‘First Place’ trophy if the competition decides on giving an award at all. There should not be a second or third place trophy.

This isn’t some kind of ignorant, macho, ‘tough guy’ stance where I’m yelling about “snowflakes” and “pansies.” No, no, no, this is rooted from a deep, philosophical appreciation for sport. (Whether the sport is athletic, academic or otherwise.)

In the ancient Olympic games there was only one winner for each event. The award was a wreath made of wild-olive leaves from a sacred tree near the temple of Zeus in Olympia.

You either won, or you didn’t.

Not so long ago, when I was 33, I attended a huge Taekwondo tournament in Washington D.C.

This was the first time I had competed, officially, since I was a kid, so quite naturally I was absolutely terrified– especially since the ambassador of South Korea was there along with a handful of prominent guests.

I participated in 2 events. I placed 1st in my division for sparring. It was a close match. The gentleman I was competing against did very well, but I managed to best him by a hair. It wasn’t a crushing victory, let’s just say that.

The other event was called ‘poomsae’, better known as ‘forms’. I came in 2nd place. The 1st place winner simply had a sharper form and I tipped my hat to him; he did better than I did. I lost fair and square.

We were given paperwork by the judges to collect awards after the closing ceremony.

I handed my paperwork in to the panel and the workers checked everything then handed me two gold medals. I said “whoa, there’s been a mistake, I only won one event” as I handed him one of the medals back.

He pointed to my paperwork that said “2nd Place” and impatiently informed me that I was supposed to receive the medal.

I argued briefly that it didn’t make sense to get a gold medal for 2nd place. I pleaded and asked if they at least had a silver medal, to no avail.

I could see that he, as well as the people in line behind me, was getting more impatient. I didn’t want to embarrass my Dojang (martial arts school) so I quickly retreated, smiled and just said “thank you” and politely moved on.

Receiving that gold medal for 2nd place made my stomach drop. I ended up mixing the two medals up and I had no idea which one was the REAL first place medal.

I know this sounds petty and rude to most people, but the 2nd place medal, in a sense, cheapened the first place medal.

There shouldn’t have been a 2nd place medal at all. I didn’t win, I didn’t win! 2nd place trophies are an insult to me. I simply don’t think they should exist at all. There can only be 1 individual or 1 team that wins.

There’s nothing wrong with losing, in my opinion. We need to lose sometimes, I believe. The greatest competition is the competition we have with ourselves. It’s the drive we have to become better, more proficient, to work harder and never give up.

When we do compete with others, to weigh our skills, to test ourselves against another person, we need to understand that there can only be winning or losing in that competition. Kids need to learn this too.

There should be the understanding of what winning and losing is and what the value of each of those are; because they each do have value. Losing is how we grow, it’s how we evolve. It’s extremely important to understand all of the intricacies involved with competition, sport, winning and losing.

There should be no award for second place. Your reward for losing is insight; gaining the understanding and perspective of where you need to concentrate your efforts for personal growth.

The etiquette of sports derailed the minute that they introduced a 2nd and 3rd place trophy. I knew it wouldn’t be long before every individual received a trophy, just for participating, which in my opinion completely nullifies the point of competition.

I’m honestly not trying to be an asshole, but the fact is, there can only be one winner.

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