Is football too violent? My fellow elder Owen Strachan says that’s a question Christians need to take seriously, and with characteristic aplomb he argues that the evidence points to the conclusion that football is bad for the people who play it. Jimmy Scroggins and David Prince have responded with an argument that football teaches manhood and risk. [HT: Joe Carter]
I played organized football in full pads between the ages of 11 and 14, at which point I stopped playing football to concentrate on basketball and baseball.
I’m for manhood, toughness, and risk. I have no objection to scraped knees, bruises, even broken bones. I missed one football season because I took a “risk” that had me playing Tarzan, resulting in a snapped right wrist with a hairline fracture in the left. I made a stupid choice and suffered the consequences, but I hope the testimony of my foolhardy bravado will pre-empt the response I anticipate to what I’m about to say (“well, Hamilton’s just a pansy”).
While some of my team-mates were willing to risk their necks–literally, it seemed to me–by launching themselves head first into pile-up tackles, I never could bring myself to do that. I remember one kid in particular who hit so hard everyone grimaced. That dude crushed people. His forehead was like a jackhammer.
Somehow I sensed that wasn’t safe or sane. So I wound up playing tight end instead of d-back.
I loved the hard work and team spirit that went with football. There was an enjoyable machismo about August two-a-day practices in Arkansas heat on a dusty field, grass brown from lack of rain. Sweltering, sweating, strengthening, grimy smash mouth football. But I had heard horror stories of broken necks, and when I think about my own response to those pile-ups, my instinctive reticence to lead with the helmet, and the fact that I’m probably not going to let my own sons to play full-pad football (nothing wrong with flag-football), I sympathize with Owen’s concerns, even as I continue to enjoy watching college football.
Those automated robots you see on the televised games strike me as a good depiction of NFL players, but there’s a lie in the representation. The guys on the field are made of flesh, ligament, bone, not metal. They’re human beings. Most don’t have long careers.
So for myself and my sons, football isn’t worth the risk, especially when the lessons you can learn from football can be gained just as well from baseball and basketball.
If I apply the golden rule, would I choose football for others?
Could the game be modified to be made more safe?
What do you think? Are your kids playing football?