The Arthur Ashe Courage Award is an award given by ESPN, whose parent company is the Disney Corporation, during their ESPY (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly) Awards. Though it is given out by a sports network and according to the awards show itself, the ceremony celebrates excellence in sports, the award in honor of the late tennis great Arthur Ashe, who died after contracting HIV from a blood transfusion given during a heart surgery, is now said to transcend sports. Perhaps that is how they have rationalized with themselves their decision to give the award this year to Bruce Jenner, calling his transformation to transgendered ‘Caitlyn’ ‘courageous’.
Granted, Bruce Jenner is one of the most storied and celebrated athletes of all time. When he won the decathlon at the 1976 Olympics, setting world records, he catapulted himself to sports hero status. Since then, however, he is best known as the patriarch of the Kardashian clan, who were catapulted into prominence after a sex tape featuring his step-daughter Kim Kardashian went viral.
But, according to the National Review, ESPN has offered the following explanation as to why they have decided to honor Jenner with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, and it has a progressivism, ‘you’ll be made to care’ mentality written all over it.
Bruce has received many accolades over the years for being one of the greatest Olympians of our time but The ESPYS are honored to celebrate Bruce becoming Caitlyn. She has shown the courage to embrace a truth that had been hidden for years, and to embark on a journey that may not only give comfort to those facing similar circumstances, but can also help to educate people on the challenges that the transgender community faces.
According to the 2010 census, 0.3% of America’s population is transgender. Not that whatever plight they face is insignificant, but as much as we hear about it, with transgenderism being pushed down our throats, one would think they make up a significant amount of the population.
Regardless, Jenner’s decision to have surgery after surgery in his quest to look like a woman, since genetically he can never actually be a woman, is not something that should be headline news. And is his decision to do so in a very public way, making millions with a reality TV show, really courageous? It is marketing genius in our overly obsessed reality TV show culture. But, courageous?
And what about the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Personally, I would have tons of respect for Jenner if he were to decline the award and say, “While I appreciate the recognition, I respectfully decline to accept the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. In my humble opinion, such an award should go to Lauren Hill or Noah Galloway. They are two athletes who truly personify courage in the face of tremendous adversity. They are the real heroes.”
Hill was a college basketball player who was diagnosed with brain cancer. Despite dealing with inoperable brain cancer and the death sentence that came with it, Hill had a dream of playing college basketball. She realized that dream on November 2, 2014, scoring the first and last baskets in the Mount Saint Joseph’s women’s basketball team win over Hiram College. She died at the age of 19 on April 10, 2015.
Galloway is an Iraq War veteran who lost an arm and a leg in service to his country. But, that hasn’t stopped him from inspiring others with his no-fear and no-excuses athleticism. Many came to know Galloway during his appearance on this past season’s Dancing with the Stars, in which he placed third. Galloway is also a cross-fit athlete and distance runner. Talk about facing great adversity and overcoming it with courage.
The question is, did either Galloway or Hill enter into the minds of those at ESPN who made the selection of the recipient for this year’s winner of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award? Don’t the experiences of Galloway and Hill better represent and personify the heart of the award?
At one point in time, either Galloway or Hill, hands down, would have won the award. Past winners of the award are Pat Tillman, the NFL player who gave up millions to go fight for America during the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. He was killed in the line of duty. Another recipient of the award is Pat Summitt, who was the first NCAA coach to achieve 1,000 wins. In fact, she holds the record for the most all-time wins of any NCAA coach, man or woman.
In 2013, Robin Roberts won the award not for coming out as a lesbian, but for overcoming the rare bone marrow disease myelodysplastic syndrome. She documented her battle of the disease in order to bring awareness to it.
But, in 2014, ESPN made a shift to propaganda based recipient selection giving the award to Michael Sam, for his ‘courage’ in coming out as gay before the NFL draft.
Will this move away from a focus on sports to the progressive agenda of making everyone not only care about lesbians, gays, bi-sexuals, and transgenders, but to accept it with open arms, despite any religious or moral objections, lead to the economic repercussions in viewership, or will the network reach a new set of viewers by pushing the gay agenda, bypassing true heroes of courage for a former Olympic athlete who has made himself look like a woman?
Only time will tell, but in doing so, the Disney owned network is sending a distinct message. Money spent to have surgery to change your appearance from that of a male to a female makes you more courageous than being a double amputee, war veteran and defying the odds with your inspiring athleticism.
How far we have fallen from the true meaning of courage.