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North Carolina lawmakers seek to ban participation trophies

Three Republican lawmakers have introduced a bill to ban participation trophies in youth sports and activities.
Image of a participation trophy
Posted at 1:47 PM, Apr 17, 2023

Participation trophies could soon be banned in North Carolina. 

Three Republican lawmakers in the state introduced a bill that would prohibit awards in youth recreation activities based solely on participation. 

The bill says awards should be based on "identified performance achievements."

Republicans hold a supermajority in the state legislature, meaning this bill has a good chance of passing. The state's governor, a Democrat, would have the authority to veto the bill. However, Republicans could override that veto. 

The rule would apply to programs run by local governments. Leagues that are privately run would still be allowed to give out trophies for participating. 

A boy moves to hit a baseball.

Fewer kids are participating in youth sports as costs climb

Youth participation in sports fell by 7% from 2008 to 2018, according to the Aspen Institute.

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The topic has become a cultural wedge issue. 

Conservatives across the country have railed against participation trophies for years. Many believe that rewarding children for participating, rather than being the best or among the best, sends the wrong message. 

In an interview with the Asheville Citizen Times, North Carolina state Rep. Deb Butler, a Democrat, was critical of the bill.

“We’re talking about children, not competitive athletics,” she said. “We’re talking about children.” 

Butler believes participation trophies can have a positive effect on children, including confidence building. 

“Competition is fine, and acknowledging who ran the fastest or threw the ball the farthest is all good,” she said. “But why in the world wouldn’t we want everyone to have that sense of community and belonging. It’s preposterous and a colossal waste of time.”