The question of every child receiving something for their participation in a competitive activity is a controversial issue. Personally, I don’t think it’s a big deal — and the reason is simple.
Let the Market Decide
Some events give every child a ribbon/medal/trophy, and others do not. Often, this is a question of economics more than philosophy: buying enough prizes for each participant gets expensive quickly!
Parents who want to guarantee their child a participation prize can enter their child into competitions that award them. On the other hand, families that take issue with such a policy can avoid these events. To each their own.
There’s no need to debate whether these trends are good or bad for society in general.
What’s Really Important
As a coach, when I have a student ready to play a tournament, I never consider the prizes when suggesting which event to play. And I can’t remember a parent being concerned with the prizes on offer.
Their primary concern is that their child is prepared enough to give a good performance.
Know your students! When choosing a tournament for them, I consider the following:
- My student’s schedule!
- Does the tournament have a reputation for being well-organized? This includes factors like a good playing environment and competent/impartial tournament staff,
- The rating/grade/age sections on offer. Each tournament offers different divisions, some of which may make more sense for my student than others.
Always keep your chess goals in mind (as a player), or your student’s goals in mind (as a parent or coach). There are very few absolutes in this game — it’s hard to judge another player or their family because their situation or objectives may be completely different from yours.