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The “Participation Trophy” generation

Former soccer player David Beckham gets "slimed" as he accepts the Legend Award with sons Cruz (L) and Romeo during the inaugural 2014 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports awards at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles last month. (REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni)

A new study from the libertarian magazine Reason this week carried with it a pretty striking headline:

"65% of Americans Say Millennials Are 'Entitled,' 58% of Millennials Agree"

It seems that we have an entitlement issue with out young adults -- an issue even those young adults wholly admit to.

But perhaps nothing betrays this point like the following chart. Reason and pollster Rupe asked Americans whether kids who participate in youth sports should get trophies just for playing, or only for winning. A strong majority of Americans (57 percent) said only the winners, but then you look at the age breakdown.

While older Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of trophies for winners only, those 18-24 prefer participation trophies -- albeit by a narrow 51-49 margin.

Perhaps we should start calling those under 25 years old the "participation trophy generation."

Update: It's not just age; as Reason notes there are vastly different takes on this question when you look at income and education level, too. Here's how that looks:

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.



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Philip Bump · August 20, 2014

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