Louisville women’s hoops coach slams participation trophy culture

December 6, 2016 / Athletic AdministrationCoaching
Louisville women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz took time during his postgame press conference last week to rail against the participation trophy generation and entitlement among today’s athletes.

Jeff Walz
Jeff Walz

Walz’s team had just lost to fifth-ranked Maryland, and he wasn’t too satisfied with his players’ lack of hustle and effort on defense. His frustration led to a two-minute rant against not only sports but society.

“Right now the generation of kids that are coming through, everybody gets a damn trophy, OK?” Walz said. “You finish last, you come home with a trophy. You kidding me? I mean, what’s that teaching kids?

“And unfortunately, it’s our society. It’s what we’re building for. And it’s not just in basketball; it’s in life. You know, everybody thinks they should get a job. Everybody thinks they should get a good job. No, that’s not the way it works.”

Here is video of Walz’s comments (the video should start at about 4:30 with his comments):

No. 7 Louisville responded Sunday with an overtime win against in-state rival Kentucky, which was ranked 17th.

“We all took it to heart,” Louisville’s Myisha Hines-Allen said of Walz’s comments. “We knew we had Kentucky coming in next, so we had to chew it, had to take it and come ready to play. It started in practice because we had energy that next day. He was completely right.”

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Participation trophies

Walz isn’t the only coach or player to take issue with participation trophies and the effect they have.

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison wrote an Instagram post in 2015, saying he was returning his kids’ participation trophies because they should “have to earn a real trophy.”

That same year, we surveyed readers and 87% agreed that children should not be given participation trophies.

“I feel as a country we’ve been awarding mediocrity too much, and it starts by giving participation awards,” one coach said. “It gives a sense of entitlement in a way and it creates a complacent atmosphere surrounding our youth.”

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