The War on Football rages on …

As the dawn of a new season arrives, I’m here to tell you that the game that we love so much is under attack. Usually, this space in a publication such as this one is reserved for a cheery “welcome back” piece. Something to get you excited for all that’s about to take place and the memories that are about to be made.

But this year is different. You know what I’m talking about. You’ve seen it for the past few seasons with your own eyes and now it’s obvious. Our great sport is under attack. Yes, the War on Football is being waged.

It’s being waged by the mainstream media, consisting mostly of those who have never played the game. It’s also being perpetuated by those who have actually played, but have seemingly forgotten all the good it brought them.

Let’s be frank, nobody steps on a football field without knowing the stakes. Nobody. There’s a reason for all the protective equipment. From knees to collar bones to neck to head, there’s a good chance you’re going to injure something if you play the sport.

Everyone knows the body, specifically the head, can only take so much pounding. When athletes of the highest level spend eight months of a year getting bigger, faster and stronger only to go out and collide with those who did the same thing, you know there’s a chance for problems.

And yet, the modern-day gladiators, and yes, I’m talking from the pee-wee players to the junior varsity to the NFL, decide to take that risk. Why is that? That’s the part that’s being lost in the mix.

Are they stupid? No. Far from it. Football offers the kinds of rewards and recognition that an athlete simply cannot get in other places. Basketball is fun, baseball is cute, but football is the star quarterback dating the head cheerleader.

Football teaches in the most painful of ways that in life we can put our heart and souls into something and come up short. I’m talking things such as business, marriage, to impossible hobbies such as golf. But the point is, you get up, dust off, limp back and fight to make the next play.

Football also promotes the concept of teamwork. This is 11 guys armed with a role and a goal. If even one screws up, it could mean total disaster for all. But you don’t banish the one who screwed up. You yell at him, tell him where he went wrong, slap him on the butt and encourage him to get better. Most often, he does. This is how competence is nurtured.

These great virtues can be taught elsewhere. Just not as violently. Just not on such a big stage. Just not with so much at stake.

And to the victors go the spoils. When you succeed in high school football, it’s in front of the whole community. In front of the pretty girl you’re trying to impress. Most importantly, in front of your parents and family.

At higher levels, football can lead to a free college education that will send the recipient on a nice path in life. It could also mean millions of dollars in income.

I have no clue where this War on Football will lead the sport, but the early results aren’t promising.

Referees are now put in impossible positions to make game-changing penalty calls often on what they think they see and not what really happened. Players are now faced with overbearing rules about whether they can continue playing if they got their bell rung.

And at the high school level, many potential players and their parents have simply been scared off.

What a loss.

No one is naive to the fact that there are serious repercussions to head injuries, many of which don’t become fully realized until far down the road. That’s a sad reality of a great sport. The good outweighs the bad, however. The overwhelming majority of current and former players are just fine and always will be.

To those who are risking it, I say thank you for putting on a show and enjoy the rewards that come with it. No matter what the scoreboard says, you’re a winner and that will keep paying off for your entire lifetime.

  • Colt74

    I have mixed feelings. I LOVE football. Loved it when I played and love watching and supporting it now. But…
    If God came to me and said that one of the Covina kids could die or be permanently hurt from playing the game and gave me the choice to have the game go on or stop it I would choose stop it with no reservations. I’d become a baseball fan.
    I skydive and i know the risks. That is my choice. I am adult. Family and friends think I am nucking futs. And I may be. But it is my ADULT choice.
    We love the gladiator theme. We love being macho. We hate attending a kid’s funeral.
    We do things that are bad for us every day. I smoked for 38 years. Then quit 4 years ago. Why? I loved it BUT I woke up and realized it was bad for me. Proved that just because you love something does not mean that it is good for you. I loved my ex wife. She gave me 2 beautiful daughters. But…
    These kids, who I barely know, mean more to me than the game itself.

    My 2 cents.

    • Coach Snagerty

      Hats off 74! Well said.

    • Semper Titanius

      I don’t think you’re that torn. You’re a supporter. You don’t need God to tell you that a Covina kid “could” die or get seriously injured. You already know that, but you’re not out there campaigning to change anything. (Of course, all of us would stop the game if God said a kid “will” die or get hurt.) This is part of Aram’s message; there absolutely is an element of combat to all of this, an element of something so valuable on the line, you’d never risk it anywhere else. That’s where the character is forged and developed. Nobody wants a serious injury to occur, but the stakes in this gamble are high. That’s why the head cheerleader is reserved for those willing to risk.

      Football is much like skydiving. The risk is not really that great, but the adrenaline surrounding the CONSEQUENCES, makes it worth it. . . . For some.

      Good piece, AT

    • reality

      What if God came to you and said a Covina kid is going to die in a car wreck, far more possible than a directly related high school football death, do you stop driving?There are many more examples but I’m sure you get my point. I would never criticize someone for a personal choice but it feels like so many others are ready to nail football. It feels to me so much like the Moms that preach and then refuse to give their babies any vaccines or parents that think it is safer for their children to live at home all their lives despite all evidence to the contrary. So don’t let your son play football or your daughter soccer and give them a trampoline or skateboard instead.

      • Colt74

        There is inherent risks in ANYTHING one does. But…how many people get in a car and drive it into a brick wall…on purpose? How many people that drive, skateboard, or trampoline, are praised for being a HEAD-HUNTER? I agree what 73 said…I think better education starting from Pee Wee, and on, is needed.

        • reality

          More people deliberately wreck a car take nutty risks on a trampoline or skateboard down a steep rail and seen at ER’s than football players who are adequately coached up. The first three generally have never been coached.

  • Spam Burger

    How about Walnut having to drop their freshman football program this year . Only had 12 kids come out and 9 stay on when school started.

  • reality

    Walnut aside, you will always have those schools nationwide, the participation numbers in high school football are holding. You can bet the media is biting at the bit to report on football players who get paralized or die during a practice or game. They jump almost gleefully at reporting the tragedy with the “I told you so feel” to it. With the military draft to longer in play where do kids especially young boys get some of the discipline they desperately need even want? I challenge the media to continue to seek out the human stories of young men that benefited from the training at the high school level and that turned their life in the right direction. It is not the star but the unknown fat kid in a single parent home that often finds his way in the family of a high school football teams huddle. Nice Aram

  • Colt74

    The gamble is always worth it to those that win. The gamblers sure don’t say that when they lose. How many players die or get seriously injured for life and say that it was worth it? How many parents that lost someone due to an accident or injury go to the local papers and ask them to print how worth it is was to lose their kid?

    Right now I am only hearing how worth it it is for those that have nothing to lose.

    Maybe it’s my age talking but I don’t have to prove how macho I am to no one.
    When 14-18 year olds start saying that get back to me.

  • AMAT73

    Adding my 2 cents . Football is a contact sport and you are going to get hit and there will be injuries . My feeling is that for kids of 8th grade and lower , basically Pop Warner , they should be playing flag football to minimize contact . They could wear the little helmets used for passing league for some head protection and if they chose , arm pads or other pads . The problem I see is that no real coaching of proper blocking or tackling technique is taught at this level . How many times have we seen kids going in there to tackle head down , crown of the helmet first on the field .Or coaches at practice having drills where kids are tackling and blocking and the coaches praising kids who put a hit on kid where is it was done with reckless abandon .Telling kids it’s a badge of honor to get stud marks on their helmet . If there was better teaching at this level on a constant basis , it might help . No need to have young kids getting banged around at such an early age . If you look at the cases of brain issues due to football , many of these are life time players . Playing organized ball since pee wee football .It might help , it might not , but at least kids would not take the big hits until they reach high school and they would be better prepared for the game .

    • Semper Titanius

      Very true. There definitely are a few great Pop Warner coaches out there, but most of them, and damn near all Pop Warner fans, are bat s#@t crazy.

  • TheSGVTruth

    Well said