A lot has been made the past few years over participation trophies. Many have said kids shouldn’t be given trophies unless they win. The argument is kids won’t learn that they have to earn something if you just give them participation trophies.

I agree with a lot of that, but not all of it.

Last weekend my girlfriend, Melissa Smith, competed in the Barbarian Challenge in Gadsden. It was a six-mile obstacle course with every kind of terrain you can think of with more than 20 obstacles along the way.

She trained for more than a year to be able to complete it, and she was successful. She didn’t finish first (the guy who did was an athletic freak), but she finished. She had never done anything like that before, and I was really proud of her, and a little ashamed I didn’t do it with her.

At the end of it all, she got a big shiny medal to wear around her neck. Guess what, folks? That was called a participation medal. Try telling her she didn’t earn that. She’ll fight you. I still don’t think she’s taken it off, and she’s already started training for next year. She barely took a day off.

I’ll admit I was on the “kids shouldn’t get participation trophies” bandwagon, but then I saw the look on her face when she got that medal and I changed my mind.

Kids aren’t that much different than adults.

Sure, every time a child competes there should be a winner and a loser. Kids need to know how to lose, because you’ll lose a lot in life. However, I think a trophy at the end of the season to honor the hard work they put in, isn’t a bad thing. Maybe that trophy will make a kid want to play that sport again next year or, even better, make them want to play another sport. It’s better than them sitting at home and playing Halo all day.

Sports teach kids a lot of life lessons. We need to do things that get them involved in sports, not push them away.

Sports Writer Will Gaines: 256-235-3577. On Twitter: @wgaines_star.