Feel good story for a Monday: NFL player returns sons’ ‘participation’ trophies

Feel good story for a Monday: NFL player returns sons’ ‘participation’ trophies
Credit: AP/Keith Srakocic

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison doesn’t know the meaning of “quit.” Harrison said in May, the month he turned 37, that this year he is looking to break the team’s all-time record for sacks — tackling the passer behind the line of scrimmage. Most people would tell him he’s too old to aim that high.

He’s heard that sort of caveat before. Following the 2008 season, during which he broke the team’s single season sack record with 16, he told ESPN, “People said I couldn’t do this or couldn’t do that. I was too short, too slow.”

Over the weekend, James Harrison made another statement of sorts about the nature of competition and perseverance. This time the venue for his comments was his personal Instagram account, and the subject was his two sons. The boys had earned “participation” trophies — awards for simply showing up — and Harrison returned them. Here is his message:

I came home to find out that my boys received two trophies for nothing, participation trophies! While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them till the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy. I’m sorry I’m not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned and I’m not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best … cause sometimes your best is not enough, and that should drive you to want to do better … not cry and whine until somebody gives you something to shut u up and keep you happy. #harrisonfamilyvalues

Participation trophies

Harrison’s words and actions would be viewed as fighting words by liberals — if liberals believed in fighting. To the left, participation trophies are a crutch, meant to bolster self-esteem.

These trophies also happen to be big business for trophy makers. One manufacturer reports $50 million in annual sales.

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Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.


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