In the good old days, winners were winners and losers were losers. Now there aren't any winners OR losers—just "participants!" Everyone gets a trophy now, even though my son Jimmy was CLEARLY the best batter in his T-ball league! The polar opposite of Tall Poppy Syndrome—instead of scorning the winners in a competition, the feelings of the losers...er, runners-up are assuaged by giving everyone an equal award, usually a small trophy or a participation ribbon. This attitude came around in the 90s out of a desire to boost kids' self-esteem and make them feel as if their achievements were admirable. While teaching kids to hold value in their achievements no matter what their rank is a good goal, it has since reached Political Correctness Gone Mad-type levels and has since experienced a severe backlash from parents who want their high-achieving kids to be separated from lower-achieving ones. Mister Rogers and his "everyone is special" mantra has often been cited as a catalyst of the Everyone Gets A Trophy attitude coming into existence. Very, VERY frequently Truth in Television.
- Discussed in 'The Incredibles' with Bob stating that giving everybody medals renders actual achievement pointless.
Helen: I can't believe you don't want to go to your own son's graduation.Bob: It's not a graduation. He is moving from the 4th grade to the 5th grade.Helen: It's a ceremony!Bob: It's psychotic! They keep creating new ways to celebrate mediocrity, but if someone is genuinely exceptional...
- Showcased in 'The Middle' with Sue getting an MVP award for her cross-country team, later revealed that in was for punctuation and that everybody on her team got an MVP award. The episode also shows the massive flaw in this system, as when Sue has something stolen right off her she's confident she can catch up with the thief because of her MVP, turns out she is extremely slow and soon runs out of breath. Later in the episode Axel gets a giant trophy for his basketball game even though he lost.
- On King Of The Hill, Bobby joins a soccer team whose coach is more interested in keeping the players happy than in actually scoring. Hank, of course, finds it assinine.
- Lampshaded in The Simpsons episode "Dead Putting Society", where Bart enters a mini-golf tournament. Bart lacks self-confidence since he never won anything before, as indicated in one scene where the camera pans down the awards shelf in his bedroom; they read: "Second Place", "Third Place", "Honorable Mention", and "Everybody-gets-a-trophy day".
- Another Simpsons reveals a Union rule at the Power Plant: Every employee, no matter how incompetent, must be given the "Employee of the Week" award at least once. Homer thinks he's a shoo-in this week (because everyone else has already won it) but he's beaten out by an Inanimate Carbon Rod.
- Subverted in the Sonic Boom episode, "Mombot"; after Beth the Shrew wins the children's science fair for her diorama of the solar system, Lady Walrus' Son, the Monkey Boy and the Reindeer Girl all get participation trophies. Dr. Eggman doesn't even get one, because he was disqualified for exceeding the height at a children's competition.
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