The New York Times style piece about entitled millennials who are left without internships, jobs, and summer experiences to pad their résumés bothered me, too, Jess. In particular it was the piece’s use of what has become the go-to example of why we’re just such demanding brats: Everyone gets a trophy! Books like Not Everyone Gets a Trophy and The Trophy Kids Grow Up , whose author was quoted in the NYT article, capitalize on the image. But much as I hate to bust a cliché, the expression "trophy kids" misses a rather important point: It sucks to get one of those participation trophies.
I unwillingly played most of the suburban-kid sports (my poor eye-hand coordination, pathetic stamina, and whiny insistence that I’d rather be reading didn’t exactly endear me to my teammates) and over the years gathered quite a collection of these cheap plastic trophies. Every time I looked at them, I felt embarrassed. They were reminders of my ineptitude, because I knew I didn’t earn them. No young athlete with any sense of perspective would mistake those trophies for genuine celebrations of accomplishment. My classmates and I joked about them; we rolled our eyes when they were passed out at end-of-season pizza parties.
Perhaps some young children are genuinely proud of their participation trophies (and they aren’t limited to the sports world-I once received a small participation medal from a science fair). But for the most part, these trophies, which trend pieces hold up as the point when my generation went wrong, are one big joke to Generation Y.
Photograph by Getty Images.