It seems that children are now growing up in an environment where "everyone is a winner", everyone gets awards, and just being present or "participating" is adequate grounds for recognition. Really? The world is a competitive place. When entering the workforce, will just being present be rewarded? Will everyone be a "winner" or will they face the reality that recognition, rewards and bonuses etc based on performance? How well an adult deals with the disappointments of not winning, not meeting expectations or simply not getting what they want, is dependent on their development of coping skills while dealing with similar situations while growing up.
Naturally, parents want to "protect" their children from experiencing the discomfort and disappointment of losing. They don't want their child to "feel" bad. This philosophy has even crept into education where building self esteem is linked to not losing, everyone is a winner or special, and showing effort vs. meeting standards is enough. In some situations the "red pencil corrections" on a student's work have been replaced by "non-negative/feel good" colors (ie. purple). Constructive criticism is viewed as hurtful and non productive. However, research shows that these practices are doing more harm than good.
According to Jean Twenge, author of Generation Me: Having studied recent increases in narcissism and entitlement among college students, she warns that when living rooms are filled with participation trophies, it’s part of a larger cultural message: to succeed, you just have to show up. In college, those who’ve grown up receiving endless awards do the requisite work, but don’t see the need to do it well. In the office, they still believe that attendance is all it takes to get a promotion. In life, “you’re going to lose more often than you win, even if you’re good at something,” Ms. Twenge told me. “You’ve got to get used to that to keep going.” (from Losing is Good for You by Ashley Merryman, New York Times)
The links below discuss the concept of "learning to lose" and why development of this skill is fundamental to healthy emotional development. Research findings support that losing is good for children, helping them to become adaptable, well adjusted adults.