Extrinsic Rewards: Can We Destroy the Love of the Game?


In youth sports there is the risk that chil¬dren's intrinsic interest in the sport can be decreased if they begin to see their participation as a means to some extrinsic goals, such as trophies, trips, or state championships. If carried to an extreme, external rewards can replace intrinsic motivation as the reason for participating in sports. When the young athletes begin to see these extrinsic rewards as the reason for their participation, the removal of these rewards may result in a loss of interest in participation.

We are not suggesting that trophies and other extrinsic rewards be eliminated from sports. They certainly have their rightful place as a means of recognizing outstanding effort and achievement. It is important, however, that adults and children maintain a proper perspective so that trophies do not become the be-all and end-all of participation. It is sad indeed when children lose the capacity to enjoy athletic competition for its own sake.

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