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Trophy makers respond to James Harrison

USA TODAY SPORTS logo USA TODAY SPORTS 8/17/2015 by Josh Peter, USA TODAY Sports

Charles LeClaire, USA TODAY Sports © Charles LeClaire, USA TODAY Sports Charles LeClaire, USA TODAY Sports James Harrison, linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, is not about to get a trophy from the Awards and Personalization Association.

This past weekend, Harrison wrote on his Instagram account that he is taking away participation trophies awarded to his two sons — ages 8 and 6 — until they “EARN a real trophy."

“I’m not about to to raise two boys to be men by making them believe they are entitled to something just because they tried their best,’’ Harrison wrote.

That did not sit well with Louise Ristau, executive director of the Awards and Personalization Association, which represents trophy makers.

“Recently it’s been rather trendy to be negative toward participation awards and to blame them for kids feeling entitled or not learning to be competitive,’’ Ristau told USA TODAY Sports on Monday. “But what’s really causing that? Is it really a participation award or the environment they’re living in?

“You know, entitlement predates participation awards.''

Kurt Warner, the former NFL quarterback, via Twitter supported Harrison’s stance on participation trophies. But Ristau found backing, too.

Scott Sletten, CEO of JDS Industries, a multi-million dollar company in South Dakota that makes trophies, said he questions the point of award participation trophies to, say, 17-year-olds.

“But with these younger kids, who most of these things are for, it’s just encouraging that participation,’’ Sletten told USA TODAY Sports. “Is there anything wrong with giving a medal or a token that says, ‘Good job. You participated. You did something good.’ I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.

“And let’s face it. If they don’t participate when they’re young, they’re certainly not going to participate when they’re older.’’

Children deserve more credit than Harrison is giving them, said Terrence Dehring, president of QuickTrophy LLC based in Marquette, Mich.

“Children know the difference between awards that are given out as participation trophies to commemorate the season of working and playing together and trophies that are given to the winner or MVP,’’ Dehring said via email.

Todd Adams, owner of mytrophystore.com, said he’s frustrated when he hears critics insinuate that trophy companies are getting rich selling participation trophies. He said they can be bought for less than $3 and the profit margin on such awards is negligible.

“Bottom line is, the look on the kid’s face when they get that trophy,'' he said, "you can’t put a dollar amount on that.’’

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