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    In Praise Of High School Football

    Published: Tuesday, August 27, 2002

    With our public schools mired in political correctness and feminist ideology, it is extremely encouraging for me to anticipate the arrival of a new season of high school football. Football is just about the last remaining vestige of old-fashioned, American masculinity offered at the prep level. Now, before parents with boys in track, soccer, baseball, golf, tennis, and basketball decide to go off in a tirade about how their son is every bit the man without ever having stepped foot onto the grid iron, please hear me out.

    I fully understand that it takes more than one sport (any sport) to turn a boy into a man. I would even argue that sports alone cannot turn a boy into a man. An obvious example of this is watching how many professional athletes behave. It takes more than bulging muscles, fast feet, and nimble coordination to make a man.

    Real manhood involves inner qualities such as honor, integrity, character, honesty, fidelity, etc. Without the inner qualities, physical capabilities and accomplishments mean nothing. I readily concede that point.

    However, I still maintain that high school football has been able to successfully retain many of the character building attributes not consistently demonstrated in other sports. By virtue of its rugged, full-contact requirements, football stands apart from other competitive sports. The physical necessities of football demand a commitment to discipline and regimen that is sorely lacking in today's society.

    Furthermore, the football coach is the only authoritarian male role model some boys will ever know. With a majority of children being raised by single moms or stepfathers, many boys are not receiving the authoritative discipline that helps mold them into manhood. Many times, the penetrating and demanding leadership of a good coach is all that stands between a spoiled boy and a juvenile delinquent.

    Think, too, of where discipline would be in today's public schools if football coaches weren't present! Absent discipline from teachers and principals (thanks to the N.E.A. and a host of left- wing apologists), football coaches often stand alone between orderly conduct and mob rule in many schools. Their discipline and influence are often a Godsend to a volatile environment and vulnerable educator or student.

    Then there is the positive nature of high school football itself that must be considered. A football team is usually composed of an unlimited number of participants. In fact, many players seldom get much playing time in the real game. Their limited talents usually predicate much time on the bench. These boys never get the headlines or the notoriety that the talented boys receive. This doesn't preclude them from receiving the benefits of discipline and dedication that their sport demands, however. They are still part of the team.

    The "bench warmers" work just as hard during practice as the first team. They get hit just as hard; they hit just as hard. They learn how to play hurt, how to take orders, how to play and work as a team. Instead of being cut from the team, the less talented players receive the character benefits that the sport provides.

    I urge parents to encourage their boys to play football, whether they are good enough to play on the first team, or not. The character building ingredients of football are extremely helpful to the overall development of any young man.

    Instead of looking at youth sports as the place where our children will be discovered as the next professional superstar, we should look to school athletics as a place where young people can learn the values and principles that will help them become mature and productive men and women. For boys, no sport does it better than high school football.

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