Student Well-Being

Pittsburgh Steeler Sparks Debate About Participation Trophies for Youth-Athletes

By Bryan Toporek — August 22, 2015 1 min read

On Sunday, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison sparked a ferocious debate about the merits of handing out participation trophies to youth-athletes.

Harrison posted a picture on his Instagram page of participation trophies his sons received, saying, “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 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 Aug 15, 2015 at 10:09am PDT

From there, opinions began pouring in.


“If we’re honest with ourselves, the trophies, ribbons, and medals we hand out so willingly are more about us than the children getting them,” wrote

Nancy Armour of

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.