The next time you're at a get-together with your grandfather, uncle, dad or any other old dude and you want to troll him into a red-faced rage, ask him what he thinks about participation trophies. He'll nearly crap his Dockers. Nothing gets old guys going like the idea of someone getting a trophy for losing.
Just ask Kobe Bryant, who, at 38, isn't old in real person years but is well past ancient by NBA standards. Still, Kobe has always been an honorary old dude—the kind of guy who'd embarrass a rookie who dared to smile. For Kobe, winning is all that matters.
So the fact the he doesn't really like participation trophies is no surprise. But unlike your dumb uncle Lou, Kobe has an idea for how they can be put to use.
As he recalled in an interview with Al Michaels, Kobe recently told his daughters to accept the fourth place trophy they were awarded at a recent basketball tournament so it could serve as motivation.
"Well listen, get the fourth place trophy, go home. You take the fourth place trophy, you put it up right where you can see it, and when you wake up in the morning, you look at the trophy and you remind yourself of what you’ll never win again.”
To force a kid to give back her participation trophy is one thing. But to force her to look at it every day and remind herself of her failure is quite another. But maybe that's the kind of psychological trauma it takes to become an athlete as a successful and intense as Kobe Bryant.