ON THE SIDELINES: Orange slices should be earned

by Aug 24, 2015SPORTS di-ne-lv-di-yi0 comments





This past week, James Harrison, outside linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, made headlines when he gave back two participation trophies his sons had received.  On his Instagram account, Harrison wrote, “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 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…”

Harrison challenged the “everyone deserves an orange slice” mentality that has definitely found its way into youth sports in the past few decades.  Participation trophies and awards really don’t make any sense to me.  It’s akin to being rewarded for getting up in the morning and eating breakfast.

I agree with Harrison that trophies should be earned.  If they are given to everyone or if categories are invented so that everyone receives one (i.e. Award for Best Left-Handed Linebacker who is Six Feet Tall and Wears a Size 10 shoe), then all of the real awards are diminished.

Plus, when things are given for nothing, they don’t mean much.  If a person puts in all of their effort and time into achieving a goal, they will cherish the result.  Sometimes, barely missing out on getting an award is more rewarding in the end than receiving it to begin with.  It makes you hungry.

Many times, people forget what trophies represent.  The trophy itself is just a piece of metal.  But, if you look behind the trophy, you’ll see hours of hard work, blood, sweat, and just plain ol’ grit determination.  That’s why trophies should be for something real.  Granted, people might put in hard work, blood and sweat and not win or not perform at the highest level.  And, there’s nothing wrong with that, but that doesn’t mean that they should be rewarded.  Maybe missing out on a trophy will make that person work even harder the next season or at the next competition.

I think Packers legendary coach Vince Lombardi said it best, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”

Working towards real trophies and not expecting or receiving participation or lesser trophies helps athletes, especially young ones, chase that perfection and maybe some catch their own excellence.


“Robert’s fine,” said Washington tight end Je’Ron Hamm of Robert Griffin III who suffered a concussion in a pre-season game against Detroit.