Last week saw much debate over what is courageous or heroic in terms of who deserves an award. The argument started when ESPN announced that Caitlyn Jenner would receive this year's Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPY Awards later this summer.
On Twitter, Boston Herald columnist Gerry Callahan started an untrue rumor that former military veteran Noah Galloway was a runner-up for the award.
There is, in fact, no runner-up. But that didn't stop social media from launching meme after meme in a battle that, at its most innocent, was about who had the right to be called courageous and, at its worst, became extremely hateful.
There is no question that Galloway is courageous. The U.S. Army veteran lost an arm and a leg but still competed on "Dancing with the Stars" and in several athletic events. He would have made a fine winner of the Arthur Ashe Award if he had been chosen, although he didn't take second place.
Another person who gained traction on social media was Division III freshman Mount St. Joseph University basketball player Lauren Hill, who was diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. Hill played in four games, making five layups, before she succumbed to cancer. Again, Hill would have been a great choice for the award if she had been chosen.
Let's understand why Jenner was chosen. It wasn't because Hill and Galloway weren't worthy of the award; they were both courageous. But it's also pretty damn courageous to just be who you are meant to be in life. Jenner, a former Olympic decathlon gold medalist, was courageous and heroic in letting the world know she felt she should have always been a woman. Isn't that what we try to teach our children? To be who they are and be the best person they can be in this life?
Jenner, I'm sure, knew there was going to be backlash, and there was, but she still made the bold choice. To still grace the cover of Vanity Fair and accept the Arthur Ashe Award knowing the Internet and social media would go crazy is brave in my book.
Serving in the U.S. Army and losing an arm and a leg in war is courageous. Not letting brain cancer stop you from playing college sports is courageous as well. But also having the fearlessness to let the whole world know who you really are is courageous. There are many definitions of courage, and Jenner certainly fits the bill. If everyone would stop being hateful, they would see that courage.
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