The World Needs Participation Trophies!

Over the past week or so, Andrew and I had to participate in a speech contest for school where we wrote and presented on a social justice issue. So naturally, I went full social justice warrior. Here it is:

Editor’s note: This speech won the speech contest.

Brothers, teachers, a specter haunts our proceedings – a specter channeling inequality and anger. For far too long, the top one percent have benefited themselves at the expense of the rest. My friends, we have been held hostage by an oppressive system that divides us and pits us against each other, while at the same time encouraging selfishness and greed. And who’s responsible? The gatekeepers, who would rather see one man walk away a hero than all of us walk together as champions.

Of course, my friends, I am talking about this very speech contest – a contest in which every year, there is but one winner! I am here today to tell you that this is an outrage and will no longer stand! My friends, we are all winners! And I demand that our right to victory be recognized! Comrades! We should all win this speech contest.

A collection of life experiences has shaped my feelings on the matter at hand. The first of these occurred on my first grade soccer team. My team didn’t score a goal the entire season, but technically we never lost. The league didn’t keep score so as to not hurt my feelings, and for that I am glad, because not keeping score prevented me from becoming the fragile mess that I am today.

At the end of the season, we had a team party to celebrate our year worthy of celebration. At the party, my coach said something I’ll never forget: “Boys, we played like doodoo this season, but the league demands I give you all a trophy anyway, so here you go.” And boy, were those trophies magnificent. “Trevor Louis – Purple Volcanoes,” it said in the inscription. I have never been more proud of myself in my life. I was being recognized for not doing a damn thing. And this is the prism through which I’ve viewed the world ever since.

So when I look at you all right now, I see a bunch of victims and some capitalist pigs trying to exploit them. Here I am before you a man scared as hell of competition warning you about the dangers that competition will bring.

And bring dangers it will. You don’t need me up here to tell you that. You’ve seen it firsthand. The gatekeepers here probably forced you to come up with an idea, a good one, and follow through on it. That requires hard work! Motivation! And in order to win, probably some talent.

Which brings me to my next point: There are hard-working, motivated, and talented people out there, and we need to stop them! Their successes, their wins have come at your expense! They have denied your right to victory and trampled upon your hopes and dreams. Their road to the top of the mountain runs over the back of the little guy! They bask in competition because they’re dying to take advantage of you – to take advantage of the fact that you wrote your speech between the hours of twelve and three the night before it was due. Well to HELL with that! We all deserve a medal just for showing up.

Now imagine a world in which we are all winners. In today’s society, the people who can afford it get wonderful health care. That’s indefensible! In our imagined society, everyone would receive the same level of health care. You might not be able to get the MRI you need with it, or chemo, but I promise you there will be Hello Kitty band-aids on demand.

In today’s society, the skilled professions are highly compensated. That’s BS! In our imagined society, all jobs would be paid the same. You might not be able to feed your family on the income, but neither would the guy next door.

And in this very speech contest, it is the best speeches that win. That’s malarkey! In our imagined speech contest, all speeches would win, regardless of the quality. That might bring the overall level of the competition down, but at least we would all get to experience the thrill of victory! For it is the experience of winning itself that drives our happiness and not the satisfaction of the hard work that got us there.

My point is that while winning might not mean what it used to, we’ll all still be somewhat kinda sorta okay. You may have heard the phrase, “No one’s going to hand you success; you have to go out and take it.” Well here I am handing it to you! Take it!!

Now I’ll hear this a lot, “Trevor, you’re only one I know who reads Animal Farm non-ironically.” And to that I say you’re damn right. Napoleon is my hero, and “All animals are equal” is my motto.

In conclusion, I’m calling for revolution. What choice do I have? Your right to victory, and your right to victory, and your right to victory, and everyone’s right to victory has been denied by fancy judges with some notebooks. We will overthrow the bourgeoisie of big English! Big math! And big pseudo-science! And do not think that we will stop there my friends. We will continue to fight for our rights! For the inalienable right to iPhones without cracked screens! For universal free parking on K Street! And for a Soundcloud without advertisements! Comrades, the trophy generation will not be denied! Everything is universal! Everything is free! Follow me, and I will give you peace, land, and bread for all time. You’re welcome.

-Trevor Louis

Photo Credits: Amira Blossom

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