Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo WIlliams has already received kudos from thousands of parents nationwide after taking away the participation ribbon his daughter received during school field day activities last week. For those who haven’t seen his Facebook video post on the topic, have a look.
I wrote a piece last year about James Harrison, a teammate of Williams, and his thoughts on participation trophies. There’s no need to rehash all of that, but I do have a few thoughts.
Dude, it’s Field Day, not the Super Bowl. It doesn’t count and it doesn’t matter. They don’t give out the Lombardi Trophy or hang banners on Field Day. They give cheap ribbons. The day is about fun. Most of the kids aren’t even trying that hard.
Your daughter went out and won the next event. Awesome! You think that had something to do with your tough stance, don’t ya? Maybe, just maybe the next event was the water balloon toss or a three-legged race, you know, the type of hybrid sport/goofy events they have on Field Day.
Field Day is the unofficial end of the school year. The teachers are done. The kids are done. They’re just getting in the number of school days required by the state. I’ll bet they went to the zoo or some other free attraction the next day. To put it in football terms, Field Day is like taking a knee at the end of the game.
Entitlement doesn’t come from being given a participation ribbon on Field Day when you’re seven. It comes from administrators passing you to the next grade when you can’t read. It comes from people letting you into college when you did not take your own college entrance exam.
Entitlement comes from society heaping millions of dollars and untold praise on those who can run fast, but looking down our collective noses at those who can think faster.
It’s common knowledge that many NFL players receive workout bonuses in their contracts. If they participate (Yes, I said participate) in their team’s offseason workouts, they get a participation ribbon, ahem, a check. This income is not for winning games or leading the league in anything. It’s a participation award. And I’ve never heard of anyone giving it back.
A person should be willing to work for everything he or she has, but we don’t. The generosity within the human spirit dictates that someone at some point in your life gave you something you did not earn or did something for you without merit.
Success is the result of you combined with those who fervently support you. None of us can make it alone.