NFL star to return 'Participation Trophies' given to his sons

For fifteen years, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison has terrorized opposing offenses with his hard-hitting, going-all-out defensive style.

Now he wants to terrorize educators and those who would celebrate "mediocrity." 

In an Instagram post that went immediately viral, Harrison had a few choice words for those who presented his two young sons with "Participation Trophies" at a school athletic contest.


Mean disciplinarian, or candidate for father of the year?

Depending on the eye of the beholder, Steelers linebacker James Harrison could be considered either or both. On Saturday, the hard hitting veteran defender vowed to send back awards given to his six and eight year old sons for their mere "participation" in school athletics.

Harrison—known for his aggressive and fearsome style on the field that has drawn fines and a suspension—wasn't displeased with his two young sons, but appeared upset that they did not win the awards based on competition or distinction. Their father stated as much in a sternly worded Instagram post that quickly went viral on Sunday.

"I came home to find out that my boys received two trophies for nothing, participation trophies!" the linebacker wrote. While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them til [sic] the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy," Harrison exclaimed.

On his social media accounts, Harrison often shares videos and photos of his strenuous workouts. At 37, the defender is an elder statesman of Pittsburgh's linebacker corps, but frequently displays feats of strength more common for an athlete half his age.

"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," he said, adding that "sometimes, your best is not enough, and that should drive you to want to do better."

We have often written about parents who get into trouble with the police or children's services because they let their child play outside unattended or allow them to walk home from school a couple of blocks.  They call them "free-range parents."  Back in my day, we simply called them "parents."  A second thought was never given as to whether the child was independent enough to be on his own for a while.

The attitude that children need to be shielded from anything that might upset them defines parenting today.  "Participation Trophies" are a symptom of this, shielding children from the harsh realities of life that there are winners and losers, and that just because you lost this time, that doesn't mean you can't come out on top the next time if you work hard enough. 

Today's young adults are completely incapable of competing for jobs in this 21st-century economy.  So they major in college in environmental engineering or postmodern literary criticism and wonder why they're still working at Starbucks as a barrista years later.  James Harrison is 100% correct to teach his kids that life itself is a competition, where you are constantly judged by your perfomance. 

His kids are learning at a young age you don't get "Participation Trophies" when you screw up your life.