If you have children who have participated in youth sports, like baseball, you probably have amassed a collection of post season awards. Perhaps your local youth baseball organization purchased trophies with your son or daughter’s name engraved into the base and a catcher/batter scene. Or, your league could have budgeted for medals with the name of your league, player’s name, maybe their team name engraved on the back. For me, personally, I have a nice collection of medals, trophies, and plaques to help me walk down baseball memory lane for my three sons.
So, which post season award meant the most to them? Which trophy stares at them as they are doing their homework? Which medal is hanging from the entrance to their room? Was it a medal from Tee Ball? Was it a trophy from the Urwin Tournament in Coventry? How about a league championship trophy for winning the Majors Division? The answer is simple for me as their parent – all of them are very special in their own right. Each son of mine achieved something incredible in sports and their trophy and/or medal is just a gentle reminder of that. The answer for my kids is a bit more complex. Items like medals and trophies in this modern world of virtual reality, online existence, and phone apps where you can create worlds unimagined honestly just don’t fit in. It is not their fault, it is just the world they live in.
Growing up here in Rhode Island in the 1970s and 1980s, you were ecstatic to find your name in the local paper after a big win on the Little League diamond. Nowadays, the players themselves have Twitter accounts to post videos and game highlights of their own games, sort of bypassing the local media outlets altogether. Again, not judging here, this is just the world we live in. When I was growing up, getting a trophy was a big deal and I cherished the trophies I was lucky enough to receive. Nowadays, the trophy presentation goes from kid to parent in lightning speed, shortly after the player snaps a photo of the trophy to post to his/her SnapChat or Instagram account with some cool graphic flashing in the background. In my local North Kingstown/Wickford Little League, we hand out medals to the Tee Ball age division every year in a “Super Saturday” type event, which is really fun to be a part of. And also in my league, when I was on the board of directors, we voted to hand out T-Shirts with the letters “NKW” one year instead of handing out end of the year trophies.
I am not very “phone app literate”, so take this next thought armed with that knowledge. If there was a phone app that you could simply create a virtual medal or trophy, then share it with the player, I think that might be a hit. Players could start amassing these virtual trophies from Tee Ball age and have a whole virtual trophy case by the end of their youth baseball career. Imagine a player, participating in the various divisions of youth baseball – Tee Ball to Senior Division – participating in District or All-Star tournaments, participating in Home Run Derby, Friendship tournaments. They would have quite the virtual display of their baseball careers all strategically placed on their phones so they could share, reconstruct, recreate, and illustrate when and where they played. You could throw in a bonus for participation with some sort of league registration discount or discount at a local sponsor’s place of business. All there on your smartphone, you can show XYZ Ice Cream that you have built up 100 credits towards a small soft serve ice cream cone because you have amassed 10 baseball trophies.
Personally, I love displaying the trophies and medals my sons received for playing sports. They are all really cool reminders of when they played, who they played for, their teammates (most of them are in college or high school now), and the great memories of the innocence of youth baseball. In the end, leagues will decide about trophies vs medals vs a phone app. One thing is for sure, each trophy and medal means a great deal to me as a very proud parent of three sons who participating in youth baseball.