Why James Harrison’s “Trophy Post” Says Exactly What We Need To Hear

After becoming aware that his kids brought home participation trophies for their involvement in youth sports, Steelers linebacker James Harrison took to 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.”

Upon seeing this, I stood up and gave James a round of applause.  Not because I am invested in his children’s trophy collection, nor because his parenting techniques are a concern of mine.  I applaud this move because it touches on one of the greatest issues of our day: entitlement.

While the earth will not stop rotating on it’s axis because children are provided small pieces of hardware, it is the mentality these objects create that shape who we become for the rest of our lives.  If work ethic is not singled out and celebrated, there is a tendency for the wrong mentality to develop; the notion that someone’s success should be minimized because it makes the losing side feel inferior.

Feelings don’t break four minute miles.  They don’t put men on the moon.  They don’t determine the next CEOs, presidential candidates, ground breaking scholars, or award winning artists.  What does, however, is working harder than the person next to you.  Learning that success is derived from being smarter, quicker, more efficient, and more hardworking.  This mindset is what results in people getting the most out of themselves, and understanding that at a young age is what sets people up for success.   Rewarding Johnny boy for showing up and losing by 27 points at a youth basketball game does nothing to help create a winning mentality, and in actuality, only creates for him a blurred sense of how this world really works.

I am a believer that we as a species are capable of excellence.  We have yet to scratch the surface of what we can accomplish.  However, being great is a decision.  It starts with how we internalize the world around us and is carried out by our daily actions.  It is not something that happens by chance, it is pinpointed and developed.  So while James Harrison “took away” his kids’ trophies, he is giving them something much more valuable in return.  It wouldn’t hurt the rest of us to take notice.




By Eddie Pinero @yourworldwithin