Bryce Harper urges Little Leaguers to disregard participation trophies

There are two things we know for sure about Bryce Harper.

The first is that he’s not shy about sharing his opinion, no matter the question and, as we learned on Saturday morning, no matter the audience.

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The other is that he’s one of, if not the most competitive baseball player around. And as he reminded us Saturday, he didn’t become that way by collecting participation trophies.

Harper was one of several Nationals players to meet with and speak to Little Leaguers from around the Washington D.C. area prior to Washington’s 3-0 win against the Padres. It was there we saw both the honest and competitive sides of Harper emerge during a Q & A session, which led to a response that had the gathering roaring its approval.

Though the question does not appear in the video, we do hear Harper making it clear he’s not a fan of participation trophies.

Harper’s exact words were: “As much as they might tell you, ‘Oh, it’s okay you guys lost,’ but no, Johnny, no. No participation trophies, okay. First place only.”

That might not sound like a message all parents or coaches would want delivered to their children or players, but Harper’s tone and delivery framed it in a way that seemed to have everyone nodding in agreement.

And let’s be honest, there are probably more people who agree with Harper’s point of view anyway, including those kids. You know most, if not all, are playing to win every game they’re involved in. Most of them don’t want a trophy that reminds them they didn’t win, and those that do will probably forget they own it before the summer is over.

You will not find a participation trophy on Bryce Harper's mantle. (AP)
You will not find a participation trophy on Bryce Harper’s mantle. (AP)

For The Win’s Alysha Tsuji shared a few examples of other athletes and coaches who have spoken out, including Louisville’s women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz: “Right now, the generation of kids that are coming through, everybody gets a damn trophy, okay? You finish last, you come home with a trophy. You kidding me? What’s that teaching kids? It’s okay to lose!”

Some see competing for a single trophy as a way to build character. Others argue that everyone getting a trophy builds confidence and prioritizes effort. Neither viewpoint should be completely dismissed, but the truth is there’s probably more to be gained from experiencing disappointment and learning how to deal with it.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!