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James Harrison sacks participation trophies

08/18/2015, 9:30am CDT
By Al Buczkowski

Really, if James Harrison wanted to teach his sons (ages 6 and 8) about earning their keep in life, he could have just directed them to his Wikipedia page.

There, they could read all about the undersized, undrafted free agent who was repeatedly cut, relegated to practice squads, and almost quit to become a truck driver before breaking out in 2007 as the perennial Pro Bowler Steelers fans know and love.

In short, their old man is the embodiment of work ethic. The guy literally co-authored the book on it.


So, dad being who he is, one would think “entitlement” is a foreign concept in the Harrison house anyway. But just to make sure, the two-time Super Bowl champ took it a little further (as he does), taking to Instagram to tackle the issue of participation trophies.

Or, as he calls them, “trophies for nothing.”

Though detractors made their presence felt ("…I think the only whiner here is you"), Harrison's Instagram and Facebook posts were flooded with supporters ("You're right!!! They don't need the 'I showed up trophies'").

Of course, the issue (or non-issue, depending on who you ask) of participation trophies in youth sports is nothing new, though the debate has seemingly intensified over the last decade or so.

One of the higher profile stories of the last few years centered around Keller Youth Association’s (Keller, TX) announcement that teams would no longer receive participation trophies – a move that caused a similar reaction as Harrison’s stance, with supportive parents and coaches in the majority.

Meanwhile, as HBO's Real Sports recently reported, the movement to make “everybody a winner” has produced one really, really big winner: the trophy industry now brings in an estimated 5 billion dollars a year in the US.

What are your thoughts on participation trophies? Would you ever go as far as to tell your kids to return theirs?

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    Al Buczkowski

    About the Author

    Alan Buczkowski is a copywriter in the Sport Ngin marketing department with a background in sports journalism. He brings the trends, topics, and inspirational stories from the world of youth sports to Sport Ngin Community.

    Email Alan a Comment or Idea

    Tag(s): News