With 5 Pro Bowls under his helmet and named 2 times to the NFL’s First-Team All-Pro squad, Pittsburg Steelers’ linebacker, #92 James Harrison, is quite a father. Desirous of raising his boys to be men, Harrison doesn’t believe that trophies should be awarded for merely showing up. No, he believes that trophies must be earned.
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 to 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
A couple of observations.
First: This belief confuses the basics with merit in two ways:
- The basics are expected of every team member, from the least-gifted to the most-gifted. When just showing up is translated into awards, this confused idea engrains an entitlement mentality in young people. First, it’s participation trophies. Then, it’s “free” college tuition. And, if they’re lucky, subsidized food, and housing as well as light, heating, and electric, all provided for “free” by an ever-expanding government apparatus that controls the people. It’s the attitude that many liberals believe should be reflective of the nation: “I’m owed simply because I’m here”—legally or illegally. That’s not freedom. It’s servitude.
- Virtually every young person knows the difference between what’s “earned” through one’s hard work and what’s “given” just for showing up. Virtually every young person also knows the level of one’s aptitude for particular tasks—which need to be tested if they are to develop (and failure is sometimes part of this experience)—as well as one’s limitations which, no matter how hard an individual might try, will never be “award winning.” Giving an award to an individual who knows it’s not a real award is to avoid teaching young people this important life’s lesson. Not being award winning in a particular tasks doesn’t make an individual a bad person.
- Self-esteem is exactly that: self...esteem...that is, esteem an individual has for oneself. Self-esteem comes from within and developed as one does what’s right, stands up to the crowd, and does not violate one’s principles, values, and morals. Once possessed, self-esteem cannot be taken away because it comes from within, not from without. Awards for merely showing up are an attempt on the part of others to build self-esteem in young people from without. The problem is: Young people know this and the award will always represent something given not earned. That doesn’t build self-esteem.
Second: Might the parents who demand those awards be given just for showing up be doing so to assuage their feelings? For example:
- They could be feeling sorry for their child having to confront one of life’s harsh lessons.
- They could be feeling sorry for how their child will feel, learning that he or she doesn’t measure up against more talented peers.
- They could be feeling sorry for themselves because their child isn’t quite as special, talented, and awesome as they want.
Participating in activities provides young people an important means of socialization, challenge, competition, and winning (or losing). Of course, no one likes to lose, but not winning an earned trophy translates into greater self-knowledge as well as an important life’s lesson. Presenting an award just for showing up doesn’t.
Kudos to James Harrison from The Motley Monk! He’s providing an object lesson about how to raise boys by teaching them to be men!
Let the discussion begin...
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