On Watching the World Cup with my Son - The battle for Third Place

Is the battle for third place really a thing? My sister asked me this or something similar to this last night. Just a few hours earlier I'd mentioned my disdain for participation trophies and such a thing as second third place (aka fourth place). Belgium and England are playing for third place in the 2018 World Cup. Why would they fight so hard for a bronze? ...because it's a bronze. It's a medal. It's a placement in the WORLD CUP. It's not a participation trophy it's a chance to say you're one of the top three teams in the world. That said the World Cup does show the world that participation is still important. Not for the trophy but for the competition. Teams played like hell even during the group stage when they knew they weren't going to advance. Of course third and fourth place matters. But to be clear, third is better than fourth and while lauding effort and accomplishment for making it to the thing should still exist, participation trophies are still looked on with disdain.

I think sometimes we lose sight of the idea that we should work, fight, strive for more even when the rewards are a job well done, a game well played. Sure there may be some personal stats but there's also pride and reputation that on a personal level you've done your best for the team (football team and country).  

Also there is a positive message that comes with the shame of losing - Work harder and Do better. 

When my son got fourth place in his first TKD tournament he was upset. I spent time letting him know he could do better and with the confidence of a parent I used the lack of a trophy as a tool to convince him that if he worked harder, moved faster, kicked more - maybe kicked more than once- that he'd get a trophy and maybe he could get to first place in his group.  But then he found out that he could still have a trophy - that everyone gets a trophy. Okay so i'm not an ass. I didn't crush the kid and tell him he couldn't have the trophy though the thought crossed my mind. I even helped try to find the paper work and graciously thanked the woman acting as keeper of the trophies when she handed one to my kid even without the paper work. The kid was happy. It was time to go get lunch and beer (it was close to Three Floyds Brewery). But I was left with a lingering feeling that I'd lost an important lesson- loss. 

Life is filled with wins and losses and both help us figure out what and who we want to be. If the sting of loss is cushioned with reward for showing up, will it still have the same effect?  Will the lessons of life be as poignant?

As a see note it's a little weird to see fans wearing what appear to be medieval crusader costumes but that might be my own hang ups with things like crusades.