The decision by ESPN and Capital One to allow the actor previously known as Bruce Jenner to desecrate the Arthur Ashe courage award dishonors real heroes. Jenner has done nothing to deserve the Arthur Ashe award.
Jenner's decision to be the character Caitlyn in an E! Network
reality show is a common type of action in the entertainment
industry. There is nothing unusual about an entertainer with a
male body impersonating , or playing, a female character. His
action involves no more courage than all entertainers must have to
perform before an audience. His theft of the Arthur Ashe
award to make himself look courageous is nothing more than a sick
public relations stunt.
It doesn't take courage for someone to take a high paying
entertainment job that doesn't involve physical danger like the
driver of a truck load of dynamite would face. Many of
us old guys would be willing to let our hair grow, or wear a wig if
the hair has stopped growing, and put on a dress for the kind of
money Jenner is getting from the E! Network.. Some of us
might be willing to go even farther than Jenner is willing to go and
let them remove what David Letterman calls our "junk".
When a man reaches 65 it sometimes isn't much more than junk anyway.
Giving a courage award to someone who has done nothing courageous
dishonors those who have actually done something heroic.
Giving an award named after the black man who integrated the
American Davis Cup team to a wealthy white entertainer so he can
further his career is sick. When Arthur Ashe discovered
he had received an HIV infection from a blood transfusion he worked
to educate people about the disease and founded Arthur Ashe
Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS and the Arthur Ashe Institute for
Urban Health. Jenner's decision to do a new reality show
playing a woman doesn't remotely compare to what Ashe did.
The actions of a young college woman named Lauren Hill does compare
favorably with Ashe's actions. When she found out she
was dying of an incurable cancer she dedicated the remainder of her
college basketball career to trying to raise research funds so other
young people would not have to share her fate.
Sgt. Noah Galloway didn't get a fatal disease in Iraq, but he did
lose an arm and a leg. If I had suffered that type of
injury in Vietnam I would probably have spent the rest of my sitting
in front of a tv set. Galloway chose to fight back like
Arthur Ashe and became a motivational speaker and even finished 3rd
in the show "Dancing with the Stars".
Both of these individuals demonstrated far more courage than Jenner
has. I recently saw a news story about a young father who
demonstrated far more courage than Jenner. When a man
attempted to steal his car with his son inside, this courageous
father jumped on the moving vehicle and held on as long as he
The men and women who have served in the War on Terror have
demonstrated far more courage than Jenner. The same can
be said of those who work as police officers or firefighters.
If Jenner accepts the award he will mark himself as a coward rather
than a hero. Jenner's attempt to steal the award reminds
me of an old Warner Brothers cartoon about a phony hero
dog. At the start of the cartoon "Fresh
Airedale" the dog helps a burglar by serving as a
lookout until the car chases the burglar. When the dog
hears someone coming he pretends he has chased the burglar
away. When the dog hears about another dog being called the
"Number 1 Dog" he travels to the Number 1 dog's home and attempts to
push him into a pond. The phony hero misses and ends up in the
water. The Number 1 Dog rescues the phony, but is exhausted by
the effort. The phony revives first and when he hears people
coming acts like he rescued the Number 1 Dog. The
dogs in the cartoon were males, but Jenner wants to be referred to
as a female. When you get older you sometimes have
trouble remembering some words. Does anyone remember the word
for a female dog?