What to do with your old childhood trophies?
October 21, 2004 8:06 PM   Subscribe

What have you done with your old childhood and teenage-era athletic awards and trophies? Did you keep them, or did you throw them out? What do/did you feel towards them, either way? And if you threw them out, did you find a means of disposal that allowed both for environmental concerns and the fact that you had your full name engraved on some of them?
posted by orange swan to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total)
I lost mine which means somebody else probably tossed them. I didn't have any sentimental attachment to them anyway, I keep things because I'm a pack rat. Those awards, if they were still around, would be about 18 years old now. They don't define who I am, I'm not Al Bundy or Hank Hill. My present self isn't defined by my past self. That seems like it would lead to madness. I'm worse at some things than I was: I can't swim as fast, I'm not quite as strong as I was as a teenager, tackle football or lacrosse would be a mistake unless I played against other people in their mid 30's. On the other hand I can run farther. I mastered that little thing called breathing and don't hold my breath when I exert myself anymore. I still hate running though so I do it maybe 2 or 3 times a year (and relearn my hatred for running).

When I'm with friends I always remember the funny things that happened rather than the big games or the big wins or the big defeats anyway. I know lots of new things now too, though they're mostly not athletic. I've learned to play the guitar a bit, and while I still suck I'm infinitely better than I would've been as a teenager. I can draw and paint a bit too.

Come to think of it I left all that stuff at my folks house. If it weren't for a fire they had a few years ago I bet they'd still be in my basement office/den/get-away-from-my-family room. So I guess they were reduced to piles of ash and molten blobs of metal.
posted by substrate at 8:42 PM on October 21, 2004

I had to wrestle with my Mom to let me throw out most of my trophies and ribbons when I moved out, although she demanded to at least keep 17 years worth of swimming ribbons. They all meant something to me at one time or another, but nothing now. The important things I took away from athletics were friends, health, and self-image, all of which (knock on wood) I still have.
posted by saladin at 8:53 PM on October 21, 2004

I keep my trophies (all academic awards) in various stages of assembly in a storage box. I don't care if anyone else sees them or if they get a bit chipped and tarnished, but they do jog some important memories for me. I'll maybe look at them once every 3 or 4 years.

Middle and high school are such a blur for me, it's nice to have a few tactile tokens from my past so neatly date-stamped. If anything, they show me how much I've changed - mostly in a good way, I would hope (far more laid back and less concerned with public recognition). I suppose the logical extension of that sentiment *would* be to toss the things, but then how else could I easily remember what years I went to middle school or went to D.C. for the first time?

On the flip side: Of all my childhood awards, my music medals are the classiest looking, still mean something to me, and are a good visual incentive for my school-aged students come audition/competition season. I keep these on display - they're framed in shadowboxes in my music studio.

My life as a musician is very precious to me and I like to keep a record of it. My entire studio is plastered in classical music memorabilia - both general historic stuff and an ever-increasing amount of my own. But this is all less of a shrine to my own achievement and more a way to remember all the wonderful people I've played with and productions I've been a part of over the years. Those old medals are just a part of the progression when it became less about me and more about the music.
posted by Sangre Azul at 10:26 PM on October 21, 2004

i took a picture of the ones i liked and then threw them away.

then the picture never showed up :-(

i still think that would have worked for me. maybe i should have waited to throw them away until i had the picture in hand...
posted by Sean Meade at 2:56 AM on October 22, 2004

If you want to get rid of them, you can usually pry off the name plates that have your personal information and donate them to Goodwill, the local YMCA, etc. There are always programs out there who have kids who will be thrilled to receive a trophy. Call around and get creative.
posted by Coffeemate at 6:24 AM on October 22, 2004

Tossed them all; I like to travel light.

I have to say I am prejudiced against people who display their trophies and plaques. I've been in homes where an entire room was a shrine to their kid's athletic or musical prowess. To me most plaques and trophies are boringly plebeian and tacky; ugly little dust collectors.

However there are exceptions. My dad recently got an award from the city of LA that is just beautiful-- a true piece of artwork in itself-- and if I was lucky enough to inherit it, I would display it as a piece of art.

So here's an idea: take a series of black and white photographs, arrange them in a montage different sizes, different angles), frame it, and hang it in the bathroom or bedroom-- NOT the public rooms, please.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:49 AM on October 22, 2004

i donated some to local theatres as props and to various charitable organizations that were able to recycle them into new awards for kids. some, i did keep, in a trunk full of other useless things, like report cards, in the basement.

at the time i got rid of them, i was sure i'd regret it, but i haven't yet in large part because dad took thousands of pictures of our various tournaments/competitions over the years. recently, my sister and i went through those and threw away the out-of-focus, unflattering and generally bad pictures (as well as those of people we no longer recognized).
posted by crush-onastick at 7:49 AM on October 22, 2004

One other point. Sometimes you can donate them to the school.

When I competed for the speech team at my college, we had a trophy case in the hallway to fill with the most impressive awards, and the practice room overflowed with all the other trophies that couldn't fit into the display. Pretty impressive for the newcomers-- let them know the history of the team.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:56 AM on October 22, 2004

Most trophies of the kind likely to be won in school are remarkably cheaply and tackily made if you examine them close up, in my experience. Nothing wrong with that, it's about the taking part, not the trophy, etc, etc - but after the achievement is diluted with time passing, they're not necessarily objects I'd want on the mantlepiece.

Anyhow, I think the couple I got as a kid might be in my parents loft, but if it turns out they were trashed years ago, I'd be happy.

I'd bet a hammer and punch could obliterate any identifying names in seconds, if that's a concern.
posted by normy at 9:20 AM on October 22, 2004

I second (third?) the idea of photographing the trophies/awards, then getting rid of them. In the vast majority of cases, it's not the trophy itself you're attached to, but the idea/sentiment behind it (the exception being things like Gravy's dad's award). I am a firm believer in traveling light, myself. Life is full enough of stuff as it is.
posted by widdershins at 9:27 AM on October 22, 2004

My parents kept all of my trophies and medals and I think they're still being displayed in their family room. I don't really care about them except for my state championship medal, which I'll probably take and put in a drawer, but if my folks want to keep the trophies then it's really up to them.
posted by gyc at 9:56 AM on October 22, 2004

My mom still has my trophies, but the medals, patches and small plaques are in my possession (in a box at the moment). If you want to get rid of the trophies, think about donating them to some organization rather than just tossing them. It might take a bit to find someone who can use them, but one of my friends donated all his baseball trophies to a group for under-privileged kids, and they were thrilled to get them. Even though the newest one is over 20 years old, I'm not entirely ready to part with them just yet. When I do, there are probably one or two I will keep anyway, just because of the memories and hard work that went into getting them. You might want to hold on to one or two of them if any of them have really strong sentimental value. (You will wrest my "Outstanding Performer" trophy from my cold dead fingers - no, just bury me with it please! LOL)

Making a photo montage of them is a great idea. I'd been wanting to make a display of some sort for my medals, etc., and I could work that into it as well ... and not have to have all the other larger, dust-collecting stuff on display ... so thanks for those who suggested that!
posted by Orb at 11:57 AM on October 22, 2004

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