Everyone gets a participation trophy—except James Harrison's kids. In an Instagram post over the weekend, the Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker showed a photo of two awards his sons received for good grades as student-athletes from the Best of the Batch Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by ex-NFLer Charlie Batch that's "devoted to improving the lives of children and families in distressed communities by building character, self-esteem, and appreciation for education." But Harrison posted that #harrisonfamilyvalues dictate the trophies go back "until they EARN a real trophy." "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 wrote on the modern-day parenting issue. "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."
His stance has "transcended normal NFL fandom," ESPN notes, evoking responses from his own teammates, columnists, and even Rush Limbaugh, who gloats Harrison's take proves "PC isn't popular." "You know, in this world, you've got to earn things," teammate Darrius Heyward-Bey tells WPXI. And Nancy Armour writes for USA Today—after noting Harrison "may be the last person you want to take life lessons from," given his domestic violence history—that kids may not try harder when they're "treated no differently than the kid who sits in the outfield picking dandelions." Others don't concur. Dani Bostick agrees on Behind the Steel Curtain "entitlement is a societal scourge," but she adds for Batch's group, "while earning good grades and participating in a sport might be easy ... for some [e.g., Harrison's kids], it is quite an achievement for a young man or woman who battles hunger, an unpredictable home life, and other challenges. Those trophies weren't just for showing up."