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I thought the big story of the day concerning Caitlyn Jenner was going to be the Vanity Fair cover shoot. But later I saw a tweet from Star Jones that read:
So on July 15, 2015, Caitlyn Jenner will receive the Courage Award named after one of the most courageous men ever to play professional sports.
It doesn't seem fitting to me. Star is probably right about Arthur smiling because he was a contemporary of Caitlyn when she was known as Bruce Jenner, one the greatest athletes of our generation. But as for the criterion for the award, I believe Caitlyn falls short of the mark.
Had Caitlyn made the change just a mere decade ago, I would applaud ESPN for their courage in bestowing such an honor to someone who made such a decision before acceptance was an option. Caitlyn was a contemporary of Renee Richards, a fierce tennis competitor as a male and and as a female, but Bruce, while battling what would be his ultimate decision to follow Richards example, never came forward with visible support of Richards as his star was shining the brightest.
Instead, Caitlyn waited until the children Bruce fathered were grown, his star had arisen again due to the reality show craze, and the temperature of the culture had cooled considerably concerning LGBT issues, before going public with his struggle.
The award is named after a man/athlete that battled racism face to face on and off the tennis court. It is named after a man who refused monetary incentives to play in a country that practiced apartheid. It is named after a man who publicly and gracefully battled HIV/AIDS which he hoped his personal struggle would bring the awareness needed for research in combating the disease.
Caitlyn should be applauded for making the decision best for her, to be comfortable in her own skin. Caitlyn should not be ostracized, nor should her accomplishments as Bruce Jenner be diminished. However, I don't think Caitlyn is Arthur Ashe, nor should she be the recipient of a courage award. The times are different and maybe that really is a positive statement for the society as a whole.
Maybe America should be awarded instead for taking yet another step toward tolerance. Nonetheless, congratulations Caitlyn.