Best dad ever or too harsh? NFL player takes his sons' trophies away.

James Harrison, a linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, isn't having any part of the "participation trophy" trend for his sons.



Photo by James Harrison.

His boys received trophies for "nothing," according to Harrison, and they're not keeping them!

"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," he wrote in an Instagram post.

Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images.

He explained his reasoning: "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."


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. #harrisonfamilyvalues
A photo posted by James Harrison (@jhharrison92) on



Harrison received a lot of support in the comments on his post, which has gotten over 13,000 likes — and counting.

"Thanks for saying publicly what every parent has been saying for years. At some point you will lose even when you do your best and more young men have to get used to losing and learning from it. Thanks again," wrote one fan.

"I'm with you! Too many self-entitled kids these days. Need to teach them the core values about earning your way in life!" wrote another.

"Bravo. Couldn't agree more. Kids need positive reinforcement and encouragement for sure, but the 'everyone gets a trophy' mentality does nothing to teach them work ethic, drive, determination, and fortitude. Now they will want to push to win a trophy, as it should be. Hard work pays off ... [b]ut you've gotta do the work!! Great job," wrote someone else who was in strong agreement.

Do all parents agree with Harris? Should everyone get a trophy?

This certainly isn't a new topic of discussion among parents, with some falling on both sides of the fence. A 2014 poll of 1,000 adults found that 57% believed only actual winners deserved trophies, while 40% were fine with their kids receiving participation awards.

However, as the parents' age, income level, and education increased, their support for participation trophies decreased:

  • Among those making $90,000 or more, 26% were in favor of participation awards.
  • Among college grads, 29% were in favor of participation awards.
  • Among the 35-54 year-old crowd, 39% were in favor of participation awards.

Experts have differing opinions, but many feel that the child's age is an important determining factor.

Photo by Thinkstock.

Craig Sigl, an expert on sports training for kids and adults, shared his opinion with Consumer Affairs, saying that it's OK for young kids, but we should knock that off for older ones.

"We are teaching them through sports participation, to go out into the world and participate. [To] do things. Be part of something.
We're also teaching them to follow through and don't quit even though sometimes it's not always exciting like a video game. People on the team depend on you [to have] discipline, to show up to every practice and game.
The trophy or ribbon is a significant recognition of these attributes if the kid goes the whole season ... [s]o I agree with the concept for kids in tee-ball and pee-wee sports. First, second grade, maybe third at the oldest. Generally not for kids who are older than that." — Sigl, in Consumer Affairs

So what about you? Do you agree with Harrison and think that participation trophies for kids do them no favors? Or are you fine with a trophy for every kid?

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

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