Lance Scranton: First down
August 1, 2017
Fall is approaching and that means football is about to get underway all across the country. Every year over 4 million young people take part in one of the greatest sports traditions in American history. But all's not well with the gridiron game, and the attacks on the safety of the game as studies seem to support an anti-football frenzy.
The latest Boston University study showing signs of CTE in football players caused a minor terror-tremor until the lead researcher explained that, "All the players in this study, on some level, were symptomatic. That leaves you with a very skewed population." An updated Mayo clinic study concluded, "The risk of high school football players developing degenerative neurological diseases later in life is no greater than if they had been in the band, glee club or choir."
So why the attack on America's most popular sport? I have a few theories:
1. In an age of "safe spaces" and "comfort zones," football offers neither. Players have assignments, and when missed, affect teammates because individual performance directly determines team success. In a "helicopter parenting" culture, football cuts against the "everybody gets a trophy" mentality that makes mom and dad feel good about their children no matter the quality of effort.
2. Football celebrates getting knocked around, and players sometimes find themselves on the ground, picking themselves up, which instills the virtues of toughness, discipline and resolve. A group of 11 players coordinating a spirited attack, or defense, of a position on the field is considered primitive in a world gone mad with tolerance, timidity and tears.
3. Football teaches that doubt, struggle and pain often come before success. Lessons learned at a young age about temperament are revealed throughout adolescence and into adulthood. Fear of failure is impossible if kids never experience a setback. In a culture of victimhood, any mention of failure is grounds for a temper tantrum or a lawsuit.
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4. Sports in general proclaim a victor and possess inherent dangers. President Roosevelt captured it succinctly when he said, "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." A Timid culture wraps success around equality of outcome instead of equality of opportunity.
This fall, try and remember that the 10 yards before the first down is filled with the kind of lessons that make football players a special brotherhood that transcends the politicized culture we find ourselves in today. The men and women who I surround myself with each and everyday understand the battle underway for the virtues that make our country great and they understand the inherent risk but unfathomable lessons that sport teach us each and every day.
*Inspired by, In Defense of America's Game by G. David Bednar
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