Ode To The Participation Ribbon

The participation ribbon gets a bad rap. With no clear winners defined, how are we to strive for being the best? Everyone has heard the “participation trophy” brought up in an argument. Parents are mad that T-Baller’s don’t keep score. Everyone is a winner and no one is a loser in these scenarios and that pisses people off.

Well since when were people not allowed to be pissed off? In my personal opinion, cant we just leave these individuals to their own miserable existence and move on with our lives with our ribbons of mediocrity? I don’t have to be the winner. I don’t need to be the best. I tried and that is a horrible, exhausting way to live. I don’t need first place, but I do need motivation and reward for my effort.


This all stems from my very first participation ribbon. I did a Rugged Maniac OCR and got a finishers medal even though my tibia fracture took me out at mile 2 of 3. So out of anyone on that course that day, I certainly didn’t deserve mine. But I got it. And I love it. It hangs in my kitchen. It motivates me to move my body more to be more prepared the next time. I’m proud of that damn thing. I got up and tried my best July 14th, 2018 an no one can take that from me.

Why all the fuss about someone earning something for getting off their ass and trying? Be it in a race or in science fair? If we don’t rank in the top three its just tough shit try harder next time? This isn’t the damn Olympics. We aren’t competing for the Nobel Prize. These are high honors to receive, but I don’t think my participation ribbon is going to be confused for an Olympic medal.

At my best, I am still mediocre. Chances are so are you. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. I have entered other competitions for my sewing and didn’t win. Maybe some of us are motivated to be the best, and great for you if you are that person, but this isn’t for you. This is for the home maker that can barely squeeze in squats between loads of laundry. This is for the office worker that cant get off her ass 8 hours a day and somehow still figures out how to get her steps in. This is for those people who know they have the odds stacked against them but pull through and do their personal best. I am reminded of the Special Olympics Motto: “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Good for you for your attempt, and wear that ribbon/medal/trophy with pride. You could have sat the game out, but you got up, dressed up, and showed up. And that is behavior that we should be encouraging by any means necessary.

What are your thoughts? Tell me how wrong or right I am in the comments below.