Taylor Swift has more Grammy Awards than Prince, James Brown, Aretha Franklin and Elvis Presley combined. I don’t mean to disparage Taylor, but I wouldn’t put her pop/country catalog in the same category as those historical musical greats. All that proves is that sometimes, when we’re honoring people with awards, they don’t always go to the people that most feel are the most deserving. Swift has an audience that has made her one of the most popular musical acts in the world and she’s being rewarded for it.
Last week, ESPN announced that at the upcoming ESPY Awards, Caitlyn Jenner (formerly Bruce) would win the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. And how, exactly did ESPN say that she was courageous because she is transgendered. Jenner went from male to female, speaking publicly that it was a choice that she felt she had to make. Personally, I have no problem with Jenner or ESPN giving her the award. When the announcement was made, however, the world erupted. A popular meme circulated social media that stated that Army Veteran Noah Galloway, a double amputee was the runner-up for the award, even though ESPN stated that there isn’t and has never been a runner-up for the Arthur Ashe award. It didn’t matter, the rush to define “courage” was on.
For a lot of people, the American Military defines courage. It’s completely understandable, with the 71st anniversary of D-Day occurring on June 6. No sane person doubts that it takes courage, unbelievable courage, to march off into battle and put your life on the line for your fellow soldier, marine, airman and seaman. To debater otherwise is foolish. What’s also foolish is the notion that military courage is the only type of courage, as if courage cannot be found in civilian life.
The fact is courage is, like most things, all in the eye of the beholder. Courage is that single mom working two jobs to take care of her children. Courage is standing up and doing what’s right when everyone around you is doing wrong. And the thing is, there’s no shortage of courage. Just because I think my 6 year old is courageous when she has to read in front of her class doesn’t mean that Noah Galloway or any military veteran are any less courageous. That’s not how this works.
The bottom line is, ESPN can hand out whatever awards it wants. Nothing is really going to change. Taylor Swift has more Grammy Awards than Prince, but that doesn’t mean I have to think she’s a better artist. If Caitlyn Jenner doesn’t fit your definition of what courage is, so what? Besides Jimmy V and Stuart Scott, what former ESPY winners can you name off the top of your head? For me, I couldn’t do it without the aid of Google.
For some, Caitlyn Jenner is courage personified. For others, it’s Noah Galloway or Lauren Hill. In the end, it’s not really a contest, there’s plenty of courage to spare.