Monday, August 3, 2009


Trophies are a topic of some controversy in NCFCA. One of the great aspects of the early National Opens were the individualized trophies, especially the Opens hosted in Region 3. However most of these tournaments also included speeches by the national leadership discussing the fleeting nature of trophies.

As a theological question, the point is sound: a trophy should not become an idol.

Yet trophies are distributed, and therefore must also serve as an acknowledgment of achievement.

These speeches always refer to the "box" or even boxes of trophies which have accumulated over a student's career. Of course this is true for the handful of families in NCFCA who dominate competition at the highest levels (including the talented and dedicated children of the national leadership). Yet for every family at the top, there are 10 families who have never been to Nationals, never will go, most of whom complete their careers with an empty box. Is it really a moral failing to try to steer a trophy or two to those competitors who peak at semis/double-octos?

The trend in NCFCA, consistent with the rhetoric, has been to reduce the number of trophies. The National Opens began the trend by substituting medals for trophies some years back. At the Texas Nationals a major step was taken when the triple octofinalists were given paper certificates. At an after party, this was excused by some as an expediency of the moment, the two triple-octos teams being unexpected breaks. Yet was this an accident? The trend was significantly expanded at the South Carolina nationals where paper certificates were created at the podium for some of the lower breaks -- despite the fact that the very highest breaks got large, oversized trophies.

Rumor has it that in NCFCA '09/'10, trophies will be banned at all tournaments below the level of Regionals.

This policy paradox fails to understand a basic element of human nature: desirability is stimulated by scarcity. If there was really a problem with coveting trophies at NCFCA tournaments, the solution would be to spray trophies over as much of the field as possible & thereby make them seem cheap.


  1. Well, now that I read this post, you are starting to sound bitter. I quote you:

    "Rumor has it that in NCFCA '09/'10, trophies will be banned at all tournaments below the level of Regionals."

    You don't sign your name on your blog and you spread rumors? I'm not trying to make you mad, I'd just like you to be civil.

  2. Hi "Want 2 Hear Both Sides"-

    Re-reading the post you referenced, I can see how you reached your conclusion, please excuse my inability to express myself clearly.

    My feeling is actually one of embarrassment.

    I'm thinking of, for example, the Region 2 team that broke to triple-octos in the Texas NATs. The kids work hard all year long, their two families spent $1000s, the students broke at the National Championship of NCFCA, and they were sent back home with ... a piece of paper.

    If I was involved with running the tournament, I would have run out afterwards & shipped them a couple of trophies, reimbursement or not.

    Apparently, however, the episode wasn't accidental, as the practice has been substantially expanded.

    I'm embarrassed for the league to see families treated this way.

  3. Hi all,
    Just found this discussion. I wanted to pass this on to "want to hear both sides" since s/he felt that the change in trophy policy was just "rumor." Checked out the ncfca website and found this (document was updated 12/08)"

    "3.3. Tournament Awards. Awards for the Qualifying Tournaments should be simple and
    inexpensive, such as ribbons, certificates, or creative items for recognition. More
    prestigious awards are best reserved for the Regional Invitational."

    I believe this gives us a good indication of where national leadership is heading.

  4. Hi caldreamin,
    You misrepresent me. I wasn't saying that I felt the change in trophy policy was just "rumor." I was quoting Region Two Parent who said it was rumor. I'm not angry, just wanting to be clear. I'm hearing a lot of bitterness coming from California and it doesn't seem to be handled in a manner that is a good example to our kids or or a good witness on any level. If there are issues that need addressing, let's not detract from those issues and let's operate in a manner pleasing to God.

  5. Hi both sides,
    I sure didn't mean to misrepresent you. My main point was to clarify that this was written policy and not just rumor. The tone of your original post led me to believe that you probably considered this to be an untrue rumor. Glad to know that that was not the case.

  6. I understand not making trophies all important. But they are nice. They are nice representatives of what has been accomplished. Are they the reason why we compete? No. But they are a great addition. Is taste the reason why we eat? No, we eat to stay alive. But taste is a great addition to it.

    Btw, the common refrain heard everywhere is "If trophies are such a big deal then I'll buy you a trophy." I'm sorry but that's hardly sensical. We like trophies not for their metal, plastic and marble but for what they represent.

    Lastly, if we do get rid of more and more trophies, then let's make sure that the money we spend on them is spent on lowering the cost towards families.