One of the hot buzz-phrases of this decade is “(anything)-shaming.” If you comment on a woman’s weight you’re fat-shaming her. If you have an opinion on breastfeeding you’re milk-shaming. If you brag about your child’s academic accomplishments you’re smart-shaming. I kid you not, Google it…these are all real.
So, in the interest of remaining hip and relevant, I have coined a new phrase “right shaming,” which is the practice of taking someone who is completely correct in their opinion and publicly destroying them for expressing that opinion. Enter James Harrison.
Harrison is an NFL player of great stature. He’s a perennial Pro-Bowler, has won Super Bowls and had one of the greatest plays in championship history when he returned a Kurt Warner interception for 100 yards while leading the Steelers to yet another Lombardi trophy. In the sports world, he matters. He also is an amazing story of resilience and focus. He played football at Kent State (hardly a football powerhouse) and went undrafted for the NFL. He went to Europe, came back to America and was cut by the Baltimore Ravens, but never gave up on himself. Now he is who he is; a multi-millionaire winner at the top of his field.
Harrison had the audacity last week to use social media as a way of decrying the trophies-for-everyone trend which is not only not new, but is exploding with acceptance across all four corners of America. Kids getting trophies just for showing up is not only the new normal, but it is adamantly defended by millions of Americans who claim themselves to be parents, when in fact they are cretins.
Put succinctly, Harrison announced that his 8 and 6 year old boys would be giving back their participation trophies because through his life he has learned that awards must be earned. Ten days later, he continues to be vilified, ridiculed, and destroyed by anyone and everyone with a microphone, pen or blog.
I have chosen my favorite example of “right shaming” Harrison for this piece. Harrison is right. It is appalling to continue this trend of instilling false confidence in children for non-achievement yet we not only continue it, we are expanding and defending it, despite countless studies and endless research demonstrably showing that we are destroying the literal fabric of our culture. If you think that’s fear-mongering or hyperbole, read the god-damned studies.
In an article posted this week entitled “Why James Harrison is Wrong,” everything that is screwed up about today’s American culture is on display. It goes far beyond parenting, for it also seeps into 21st Century America’s lack of interest in facts that don’t fit any one person’s narrative. We live in an age where morons continue to chant “hands up, don’t shoot,” which is literally something that everyone knows never happened. But hey, it’s a cool slogan, so let’s just lie. Similarly, no matter how much anecdotal and scientific evidence may be presented when it comes to the absurd “self-esteem” movement, we will ignore it as long as we feel good and, more importantly, our children never feel bad. Along the way, we’ll ignore and excuse adults living with their parents, sucking off the government (read: sucking off of all of us), and bitching about how life isn’t fair.
Let’s start with the headline: “Why James Harrison is wrong: Participation trophies don’t warp kids’ outlook.” From the jump, the writer demands that more than 20 years of research as led by both major Universities in San Diego tracking and following the self-esteem movement are completely bogus and wrong. We have literally two generations of children now in the adult world literally believe that showing up is all life is about, but the columnist chooses to ignore such evidence so that he can feel better about making kids feel better.
Others suggested millennials are singularly unable to cope these days because they grew up believing all those trophies they got for showing up warped their view of their own specialness…This is nonsense. Kids always know the fastest kid on the playground and the best players on their teams. They know the difference between winning and losing and the distance between first place and last. They do not grow up to believe they are winners in life just because they got a tin trophy for finishing fifth in rec league basketball.
It is not nonsense, sir. It is provably true on almost every level. And what’s worse is that kids (and today’s young adults) now believe that the fastest kid and best player are not to be admired, emulated, or someone to strive to be like, but rather is a bully, a show off, or just “privileged,” which means, of course he should have as many hardships thrown his way, while every form of advantage, break, and gift should be given to those “less fortunate.” They also do, quite literally, believe that they should be applauded just for showing up to class, work, or anywhere else.
“A recent study by researchers at the University of California, Irvine, found that a third of students surveyed said that they expected B’s just for attending lectures, and 40 percent said they deserved a B for completing the required reading.”
Back to the putrid USA Today article:
Older generations always find something to harrumph about in younger generations, true since Stone Age rock-heads. That’s all this really is, a belief that things were better in a past that never was.
How lame. What a pathetically cowardly argument that deflects entirely from the discussion. Older generations do, of course, always harrumph the younger, and when it comes to things like fashion and music the olders are almost always wrong and paranoid. This is not a skirt that’s too short, or a millennial who is too casually dressed in church, or a “disturbing” rock band. This is quite literally the moral fabric of what used to be the nation’s foundation on which we built Capitalism and the most competitive culture in history. Now, these kids are adults and they are trying to change the rules of the real world and they are winning. While Americans get by with “good enough is good enough,” foreign children and young adults land on our soil and work their asses off, moving up to every managerial position and taking over entire companies. While doing so, they look around and wonder aloud “what the hell happened to America’s workforce?”
This column would easily dismissed if it were not so infantile and overwhelmingly supported. With very little vocal support, James Harrison has essentially been pilloried as a mean person and a terrible father, including a personal attack in this very column:
As if a football player with a history of cheap shots is now somehow a paragon of proper parenting.
That’s beyond despicable and utterly unfair and irrelevant. Here’s hoping James Harrison runs into this columnist in a dark alley one night on his way to throw away a few of his kids’ participation trophies. It will be a great time to test whether the trophies are made of metal stronger than a human head.