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Frank Smoll discusses the over-justification hypothesis in this Psychology Today post.

Trophies and Rewards Can Be Harmful to Young Athletes

Extrinsic rewards can destroy love of the game.

by Frank Smoll

I remember long-ago when my Little League teammates would “swing for the pepperoni.” Our team’s sponsor―a restaurant owner in Chicago―promised us a pizza for every home run we hit.

Is it desirable to offer young athletes rewards for participation or achievement? There’s no simple answer to this question.

What are some of the pitfalls of external/extrinsic rewards?

Children usually participate in sports because of their internal/intrinsic motivation to play "for the fun of it." What happens when material rewards (food, money, trophies, ribbons, T-shirts, etc.) are introduced? Can kids lose their intrinsic motivation? Sadly, the answer is “yes.”

If carried to an extreme, external rewards can replace intrinsic motivation as the reason for participating in sports. When young athletes begin to see extrinsic rewards as the reason for their participation, the removal of these rewards may result in a loss of interest in participation. In some cases, this problem may transfer from a specific sport to sports in general.

Read the entire article here.