Meditation Monday #19: How Yoga Am I? – Trouble with Participation Trophies

I’m going to tell you from the start that this post is a little like a rant, but it’s a necessary unloading of some thoughts and feelings that I need to explore on my path to lead a more yoga life. I encourage your feedback on the issues.

I wrote a series in April about my yoga journey (12 Years of Yoga), but I find that I often stumble along my path to live a more yoga lifestyle. Case in point is the way I was making judgements last week at my son’s gymnastics show. All of the kids (preschool age) did a great job and I didn’t fault any of them on their performance. I’m just kind of over the participation medal being called an “award”.

A similar situation irked me on a run recently. I was going along a usual route one morning when I noticed a sign in a yard. The sign read “Sportsmanship Athlete of the Week”. Why did this get me so riled up? Well, because I’m tired of people giving out awards and recognition for things that we should be doing anyway!

In my graduate program we talked about this to some extent and it always rubbed me the wrong way. There are a lot of people in the fitness and sport field who coach others to do things that aren’t always ethical or right. There are athletes who take steroids to get ahead, fouls that are intentional, and power situations that are taken advantage of (ie coaches on players quid pro quo). I’m part of this industry and I don’t sell supplements to make a buck, promote programs and pyramid schemes, and I don’t appreciate others who do.

So, why is this so un-yoga of me? Because I really do think that in yoga we ask ourselves not to judge and that in taking a side I am making a serious judgement on the character of others. I feel like if you’re unethical that you’re bad. I wish I could be more neutral about this, but I’m not okay with cheaters. I’m not okay with selling yourself as a sports nutritionist when you’re not a licensed and degreed dietician. I’m not okay with calling yourself a trainer or lifestyle coach for having taken an online course. I’m not okay with you taking down the industry for which I hold several accredited certifications and went to school for many years and two degrees to become a part of.

I’m also not okay with awarding people for being good humans if I expect that we all should be. I said congratulations to my son when he got his “award” and told him he did a great job, because he did and I love him no matter what (more on this on Thursday). Would I have given him a medal for his performance? No. He listened to his instructors (like he was supposed to). He worked hard at practice and did what was asked of him (like he was supposed to). I am very proud of him, but there was no competition and he didn’t win.

Am I in the wrong here?

Do you like the participation medal?

Do you award others for doing what is expected of them or for going above and beyond?

What is ethical in your industry?

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