Sunday, June 7, 2015

Courage Award Not Courageous

Courage Award Not Courageous
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 7, 2015

Falling prey to the politically correct crowd does not in any way demonstrate courage, nor is it living up to the credo of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award as presented by ESPN in their annual ESPYS award program.

The award, named for the late, great tennis player, and first black man to win a Grand Slam event, who demonstrated courage for fighting AIDS, a disease he contracted from a tainted blood transfusion. As the stigma pertaining to AIDS and the HIV virus was still overwhelmingly negative across virtually all corners of society in 1988 when Ashe learned he had the disease, he remained silent about his condition until 1992 when a newspaper planned to print a story about his health.

Interestingly, Ashe’s early career mirrored that of Jackie Robinson, who broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier in 1947. Both graduated UCLA followed by stints in the military. Ashe served for two years in the United States Army. Sadly, both Ashe and Robinson died far too soon.

Ashe died at age 49 on February 6, 1993 (also Ronald Reagan’s birthday), but not before spending his remaining days being an outspoken advocate promoting AIDS awareness. The award named for Ashe in display of his courage is presented to that person leaving an imprint beyond the field of play.

What ESPN did was make a mockery of the award and worse yet, the memory of Ashe by announcing that the 2015 award would be presented to former Olympic gold medalist and winner of the decathlon in the 1976 Montreal games, Bruce Jenner.

Jenner, while going through some ungodly, immoral, body transformation is still alive, while the bona fide recipient of the award should be presented posthumously to Lauren Hill of Greendale, Indiana. Jenner, unhappy with his identity as a man, decided to tinker with the gifts G-d gave him in order to call himself a woman. This is not courageous, but to the PC crowd, this makes Jenner some sort of icon in a world where he represents barely a percentage of the people.

Lauren Hill, who, among other things, was a collegiate basketball player at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati. At age 18 Hill was diagnosed with a rare inoperable brain cancer called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma. In spite of the odds weighing heavily against her, Hill continued her basketball regimen of practices with the team in an effort to suit up for the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference schedule.

Because of the rapid progression of the cancer, the NCAA permitted not only a date change, but a venue change that would bring Hiram College to Cincinnati two weeks earlier than scheduled instead of Mount St. Joseph’s making the more than 300 mile trip to Hiram. Hiram is located in northeast Ohio and was the one time home of President James A. Garfield.

So eagerly anticipated was Hill’s appearance in the game versus Hiram, that fan support warranted moving the game from Mount St. Joseph’s gym seating 2,000 people to the Cintas Center at Xavier University, also in Cincinnati, with a capacity of 10,250 – all of which would prove necessary. In that November 2 game, Hill scored the first and last baskets of the game in Mount St. Joseph’s 66-55 win over Hiram.

The Cintas Center would once again host Hill on April 13 in a public visitation and memorial service three days following her April 10 passing at age 19 at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

In the interim, Hill would play in three more games for the Division III Lions, making three baskets before her health declined to the point she could no longer suit up. In January, Hill served as an assistant coach for a game and in February, Hill was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by the university. In March, Hill was named to the all-conference first team “in recognition of her courage and outstanding leadership,” said conference Commissioner Chris Ragsdale. Five days before Hill died, she was presented with the Pat Summit Courage Award, named for the longtime Hall of Fame coach of the University of Tennessee women’s basketball team.

Additionally, Hill helped raise over $1.5 million for pediatric cancer research through a Cincinnati telethon for The Cure Starts Now Foundation and beyond the telethon itself. For more information about the charity, visit This charity is a member of GuideStar Exchange which rates and evaluates the legitimacy of charities.

It would seem rather obvious that if Lauren Hill was courageous enough to be named to the all-conference team and be given the Pat Summit Courage Award, she sure as hell deserves the Arthur Ashe Courage Award over Bruce Jenner who is roaming around like a hermaphroditic cross dresser. Jenner’s behavior neither needs nor deserves public endorsement.

Jenner can dress as he wishes, call himself any name he chooses, dance with a panda bear if he so desires, but that does not warrant an ESPY for courage over a young woman who not only displayed indomitable spirit and gave hope to thousands of sick and dying children, but literally played through pain and adversity while dying. Lauren Hill brought attention to a disease in a dignified manner while managing to not only put a human face to it, but raise much needed funds to hopefully find a cure. She died at the painfully young age of 19, and was more than courageous and graceful in touching the face of G-d.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

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