Leading Off

Should we follow James Harrison’s tough-love approach to youth sports?

Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison (92) during practice at NFL football training camp in Latrobe, Pa. on Sunday, July 26, 2015 .
Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison (92) during practice at NFL football training camp in Latrobe, Pa. on Sunday, July 26, 2015 . AP

Say one thing for James Harrison. The All-Pro linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers knows how to keep it real.

Over the weekend, Harrison posted a picture on Instagram of two sweet-looking youth sports participation trophies given to his two sons, reportedly 6 and 8. Instead of bragging about the boys’ hardware in the text block, Big Daddy wrote in part: “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.”

While Harrison said he is “proud’ of his sons and “will encourage them” in every aspect of their lives to be successful, the trophies will be returned. You want a trophy in the Harrison household, you’d better “EARN” it.

Is Harrison right? Are we doing our children more harm than good by rewarding them with trophies and ribbons just for participating in sports? Are we giving our kids a false sense of reality just to build their self-esteem?

Zach Streight, Sacramento executive director for the national program Positive Coaching Alliance, said it depends on what the particular youth organization is trying to accomplish.

“What may be age-appropriate (participation awards) at age 6 may not be appropriate at age 13,” Streight said Monday. “Not one size fits all. … Not everything is measured in wins and losses. It all depends upon the goals of the youth organization. Are they developing young athletes, keeping them engaged, improving and motivated to keep playing? Or is it something else?

“You have to remember, when everything is defined solely on winning, things can get sideways pretty quick.”

So what are we to think of Harrison and his tough-love stance?

Papa don’t preach or father knows best?

Victor Contreras: 916-326-5527, vcontreras@sacbee.com, @sacbeevictor

Playbook

  • WHAT TO WATCH: Baseball, Giants at St. Louis, 5:15 p.m., CSNBA: Right-hander Mike Leake is scheduled to return from the 15-day disbled list to face the Cardinals.
  • TWITTER CHATTER: “Don’t know where u stand but I am fully with @jharrison9292 on the participation trophy! They don’t let kids pass classes 4 just showing up!” – @Kurt13warner
  • ON THIS DATE: On Aug. 18, 1957, Floyd Patterson knocked out Roy Harris in the 13th round at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles to retain his world heavyweight boxing title.
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