Dear Amy:

I'd like your take on giving trophies to young kids for their participation in sports.

Apparently I am in the minority here, but my 6-year-old and 4-year-old will get soccer trophies for 10 hours of practice and 10 hours of games.

They don't play the entire time, and I don't know anyone on either team who went to all of the practices and games.

We pay to have them play, buy gear for them and give them treats after practice and during and after the games. They get to socialize, they have team photos (for a cost) and they get a certificate and an end-of-the-year party. And yet, on top of all of this, most parents go in to buy the kids trophies!

I'm not even sure the scores are recorded!

When they're older and play a game competitively, sure, they should get prizes, but for the little ones, I really don't get it.

How does one handle this when the only "reasoning" I've heard is that it builds self-esteem, which I don't believe?

My child would have been the only one on the team not receiving a trophy if I didn't buy her one.

Was I wrong for following along? Are these parents living vicariously through their children?

If my kids want to play a sport, I have and will continue to support them, but I don't think they deserve to be put on a pedestal for their every movement.

I'm proud of my kids, but getting to play is the reward.

Soccer Mom

Like you, I loathe the advent of "trophy creep." Getting trophies has nothing to do with self-esteem. Building self-esteem is a function of kids feeling worthwhile and necessary to their families and their community.

Participating in team sports is one way to build self-esteem. Kids learn how to control their young bodies and their impulses. They learn how to read one another and their opponents. They learn to take directions, how to boost one another and how to take their lumps. (These are also lessons that can be learned singing in the choir, doing taekwondo, participating in Brownies or Cub Scouts, performing well in the classroom or in myriad other ways.)

Some of the kids who I feel have the healthiest self-esteem are kids who have never even touched a trophy. These are young individuals blessed with a clear sense of who they are, along with the confidence that comes from knowing that they are valued.

So, yes, I don't like the practice of giving trophies to very young children. That having been said, if every other young child on your child's soccer team receives a trophy, then I think your child should, too, mainly because little kids shouldn't be made to feel that they are being somehow penalized before they are old enough to understand their parents' views.

Dear Amy:

I wanted to tell my story regarding love at first sight.

I come from a different country, and my first contact with my husband was through the Internet. We'd chatted (flirted) for a couple of months before I traveled with a friend of mine to visit him and some other online friends living here. Sure, I'd seen pictures of him and talked to him on the phone, but the first time I actually got to meet him, there aren't words to describe the feeling! It's like all else disappeared!

Sadly, I'd planned my visit for only a week and had to return, but he proposed before I left.

We were married six months later! We've been married for almost five years, and he still makes me feel the same as the first day I met him.

Still in Love

For all of the Internet dating nightmares I hear, it's nice to know that the Internet can, in fact, be an agent of true love.

Write to Amy Dickinson at or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

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