Posted Wednesday August 19, 2015 by Christine Anderton, Executive Director


By now, most of you have probably seen or heard about James Harrison taking away his kids’ participation trophies. We felt it was time to chime in.

James Harrison is an outside linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Some of you might recall John Gilmore playing with the Steelers during training camp and pre-season in 2011 before signing with the New Orleans Saints.

Here’s what Harrison said a few days ago on Instagram, “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…”

James Harrison’s Instagram Post

Having played with Harrison, and being a father himself, Gilmore agrees with Harrison’s stance that awards and trophies should be earned. Those that put in the work and excel should be the ones rewarded right? It’s not simply enough to just show up…or is it? Gilmore is curious and wants to know, “How did Harrison go about taking the trophies back so that his sons understood the significance of it all, after receiving them already?”

To add a spin to an already controversial topic, the trophies given to Harrison’s sons were from the Best of the Batch Foundation, former Pittsburgh Steeler Charlie Batch‘s nonprofit. Gilmore, Batch, and Harrison were teammates in 2011. The Best of the Batch website says Charlie’s “passion is to unlock the potential of children and their families by providing resources to educate and empower them to give their best efforts in all they do…to be the best of the batch in life.”

We commend Charlie in his efforts with the Best of the Batch Foundation. We commend Harrison for having the courage to stand up for what he thinks is right. (Side note: Chad Henne and the Jacksonville Jaguars defeated the Steelers 23-21 in their season opener. Congrats!)

Coincidentally, the Gilmore | Henne Community Fund held our 5th Annual Peace on the Streets this past Saturday, which included a 3 on 3 youth basketball tournament. We didn’t give out participation awards, only trophies for 1st and 2nd place. Our next event is the G|H Railroad Run, Labor Day 4K. Last year we decided to give finisher medals to every runner/walker that crossed the finish line, and will be doing the same this year. Sometimes making it that far, or completing an entire season is a feat in and of itself and we think that deserves an award!

John Gilmore handing out a 1st Place award to Connor Sheehan at the G|H Railroad Run

Are participation awards/trophies overrated and contributing to a sense of entitlement in our youth? Or, are they simply a pat on the back for a job well done or the achievement of what some might consider insignificant? What are your thoughts?