Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison has never been shy about delivering big hits, whether he’s zeroing in on opponents or on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for fining him for those big hits.
His target this weekend? Those trophies that children get simply for showing up and playing, to whatever degree of success, sports. While the practice supports America’s trophy-manufacturing industries, they’re empty awards and Harrison went hard on the whole idea that someone would receive an award for not being the best, for not earning it.
Harrison wrote on Instagram:
“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.”
Here’s the hardware that his 8- and 6-year-old sons brought home:
Former NFL player Shawne Merriman backed Harrison on Facebook.
Most of the nearly 900 Instagram commenters praised Harrison’s parenting.
The conversation spiked on Twitter, too.
I'm with James Harrison, but for a different reason. Every kid is motivated by different things. Let him parent his kids his way.
— Cowboys Nation (@CowboysNation) August 16, 2015
Respect to James Harrison raising his kids right!
— Mando Iverson (@ATorres3395) August 16, 2015
James Harrison is the father of the year. Participation trophies are a complete embarrassment to our country.
— Matt Papes (@Papes23) August 16, 2015
But others disagreed.
However you feel about this, Harrison’s message could not be clearer: “#harrisonfamilyvalues.”
Hilary Levey Friedman, a sociologist and author of “Playing to Win: Raising Children in a Competitive Culture,” told the Daily Beast last year that kids are even smarter than parents about the essential worthlessness of giving everyone a trophy. “The first trophy means something, even if it’s just a participation trophy. It’s very exciting, and all the kids I studied remembered the circumstances from the first trophy they got. But very quickly, these participation trophies lose their meaning unless it’s for a really big win.”