The Participation Trophy Spirit Has Crept Into Our Church

The Participation Trophy Spirit Has Crept Into Our Church

The Participation Trophy Spirit Has Crept Into Our Church

The Green Bay Packers are looking really good, right now. So, it got me reminiscing.

I was at that impressionable age, when I was attending grade school at St. Maria Goretti in Madison, during the “Coach Vince Lombardi Era.” One of Lombardi’s great quotes was, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”

I think we were all smitten with the “chase perfection” bug, back then. I lived just a few doors down from Mark Johnson who went on to score the “Miracle on Ice” winning goal over the Soviet Union in the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. My best friend trained with Eric Heiden who went on to win 5 gold medals in speed skating in those same Olympics. One of my other best friends and I went on to gain All-State football honors in high school.

Jerry Kramer – #64 holding up Lombardi in this photo – was my hero. I took his number in high school, and I was 100% dedicated to becoming a Green Bay Packer myself. A career ending injury, in my freshman year in college, changed the trajectory of my life. So, I reached for an even higher goal – becoming a priest.

What an incredible era that was! “Chasing perfection” got into our bones. And so, you can understand why this new normal of participation trophies and entitlement and coddling snowflakes is not only strange to me and others from that era, but shocking.

I’m especially grateful for all our coaches from that era, including my dad. They too were smitten with the “chase perfection” bug, and they didn’t let up on us. They pushed us very hard.

Today, this kind of toughness could get one accused of causing emotional harm. Poppycock! The emotional harm, today, is created by overindulging and coddling youth who never learn to “strive.” So, we look at children … without “knowing any better,” they start out believing the world revolves around them … they must have whatever they want, and they must have it NOW! Temper tantrums are usually the first tactic children try to “get what they want.” Parents, can I get an “AMEN?”

Are these self-centered tantrums who they will always be? Well, it may perpetuate, if they are not made aware of a “higher way” we are called to live; if we are not inspired to “strive.” Unfortunately, this tactic of childish temper tantrums is exactly what we have been seeing in our burning streets, because they were raised with participation trophies rather than being shown this “higher way.”

One political party knows this all too well, and they are doing all they can to benefit from it. They are, quite literally, creating entitled temper tantrum brats who will do their bidding, many times, at very violent levels in order to get what they want; what they believe they are entitled to.

This entitlement/participation trophy spirit has crept into our Church. Recently, Bishop Thomas Tobin said, “I fear the Church has lost its prophetic voice. Where are the John the Baptists who will confront the Herods of our day?” Where are they, Bishop Tobin? They are being censored and even canceled by bishops who are afraid of offending anyone; bishops who are fostering this entitlement/participation trophy practice in their churches. In essence, they are saying, “You don’t have to strive to be holy or follow Church teachings … you only need to show up, and you will get your participation trophy; you will get your Eucharist.”

Somehow, these bishops attribute this participation trophy way to Christ’s way. Again, poppycock! Jesus was about as tough as any coach: “The gate is narrow and few will enter; deny yourself; pick up your cross; cut off your hand; pluck out your eye; you will be hated; and, of course, Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Knock it off with the participation trophy garbage! What we need are more John the Baptists, Coach Lombardis and Jesus Christs who call us to chase perfection so we can catch excellence!