Mean disciplinarian, or candidate for father of the year?
Depending on the eye of the beholder, Steelers linebacker James Harrison could be considered either or both. On Saturday, the hard hitting veteran defender vowed to send back awards given to his six and eight year old sons for their mere "participation" in school athletics.
Harrison—known for his aggressive and fearsome style on the field that has drawn fines and a suspension—wasn't displeased with his two young sons, but appeared upset that they did not win the awards based on competition or distinction. Their father stated as much in a sternly worded Instagram post that quickly went viral on Sunday.
"I came home to find out that my boys received two trophies for nothing, participation trophies!" the linebacker wrote. While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them til [sic] the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy," Harrison exclaimed.
On his social media accounts, Harrison often shares videos and photos of his strenuous workouts. At 37, the defender is an elder statesman of Pittsburgh's linebacker corps, but frequently displays feats of strength more common for an athlete half his age.
"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," he said, adding that "sometimes, your best is not enough, and that should drive you to want to do better."
Harrison closed out the post with the hashtag "Harrison family values."
The incident vaguely recalled a scene from Pixar's hit 2004 animated film "The Incredibles."
In a clip widely discussed by fans of the movie, husband Bob Parr—also known as his alter ego Mr. Incredible—raged to his wife about participation trophies received by his children. In the dialogue, the character lamented that people "keep inventing new ways to celebrate mediocrity."