|(image from Bucknell)|
We follow rules about how kids need to be seat-belted into the car. Then we have them put on a helmet and send them onto a football field where they engage in high-speed collisions with other boys. The helmet gives an illusion. It protects boys from fractured skulls, as if we should even be thinking about that. It does not protect them from having their brains, in effect, rattled. The evidence mounts higher all the time.
Following my own drummer
It is not uncommon for me to be on a different page from sports parents. I found it impossible through the years to supply enough attention for all of the teams, all of the time, to keep a majority of them fundamentally happy. In this case I'll probably come up against the sentiment of sports parents again. They will be so eager to feel that "rush" of excitement that comes with going to the local stadium and seeing their sons seek victory, earning those waves of cheers. It's sort of a sugar high that is transitory. The cheers encourage the boys to put aside the pain and the constant risk of injury, not just to their brains but all over. Why should medical resources be applied for treating these kids when they needn't play this barbaric game in the first place? Just stop playing. Apply your time more constructively.
Advantages here in Morris
I expect the MACA football team will do well again in 2017. I would suggest this is largely because of Morris being blessed with such a state of the art football facility. Various communities have made the commitment to an artificial turf field. Once they do this, they will try to encourage a maximum number of boys to "go out for football" because there's a monetary incentive, to show that the expense toward the facility is justified. This is morally abhorrent.
Also, the communities that do not have the means or the interest in doing this will likely see interest in football erode. Their teams will start losing more which will prompt continued erosion. Finally, many of these towns will opt not to have football. Either that or they'll send only the most athletically gifted boys to a nearby community. At least this protects the other boys who might otherwise go out for football because of peer pressure. A leading researcher of football has said that "no boys should play football just because of peer pressure." This individual is one of many saying that football should become a club sport, not sponsored by schools.
Maybe someday we'll see our Big Cat Stadium as the home for a regional club team. A better possibility would be for football to vanish off the face of the earth. Let's not get too excited about the best scenario happening. There are too many mysteriously shallow-minded parents who simply want to experience those transitory thrills of being at the stadium, cheering. It sure isn't painful for the parents or other "fans."
The boys can endure the pain because they keep hearing the cheers. If the fans stop coming, football would certainly disappear. Occasionally we see a news item about a school board member somewhere trying to speak the truth. The wave must grow.
Legacy of militarism?
Football may have been developed as a model for militarism in an age when we were expected to get involved in major wars periodically. We raised our sons to be warriors. Our culture isn't the same today. We keep our volunteer troops of today active in places like Afghanistan - I'm not even sure what that's all about. I assure you that if we had a draft, we'd hear more about it.
The invasion of Iraq has been described as the worst foreign policy decision in U.S. history. Saddam Hussein knew how to deal with the likes of Isis. Of course he was brutal but he was a secular leader. He was a regional strongman. That's what works in that part of the world. Tragically we had to send our local Guardsmen over there. When those Guardsmen returned, there was a welcome back at the P.E. Center in Morris that was so grand and glorious. Strike up the band.
The Viet Nam soldiers got no such reception when they came back. In fact, they were told not to wear their uniforms on the way home.
Phasing out the sport of football would be a logical way of proclaiming that the human race is entering a new era. It's about time. Should I blog about MACA football this year? Very good question. I could reason that if the Morris school district continues to sponsor football, I should accept that as an appropriate imprimatur. Ultimately though I must respect my concerns. Maybe I'll do it (write about it). We'll see.
Problem is, our schools shouldn't be sponsoring gladiators. Too many parents are glib, flippant and superficial about defending the sport.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - firstname.lastname@example.org