I like Mark Edmundson for two reasons – he writes great essays and he has written a book about Why Football Matters. Football is big in America. Little kids play football. Big burly kids play football. It’s a way out of poverty for many kids, thanks to college scholarships, which support footballers, but push them to keep up their grades if they want to continue playing football.
Playing football is a great way to build character. Camps like NFL Play 60 Character Camp help kids learn football, understand healthier lifestyles and get doses of character lessons that equip them with important life skills. Football can toughen kids. It teaches kids to get up after every fall. Resilience becomes a way of life. Humiliation might be a part of this toughening, but for most kids, the goal is to get back up on their feet.
The Dark Side
While building courage in football, it is easy for kids to go over to the dark side. In the process of toughening up, a mean streak might develop. That is where coaches step in. A good coach watches over his wards with a hawk’s eye. Team spirit is good, but the team must not swallow the individual. Courage must not darken into brutality. Team spirit must not deteriorate into a rowdy act. Coaches draw lines, and by that teach kids to draw lines. Lessons learnt on the field, help kids do the right thing both on and off the field.
Getting kids to Play
The summer is when a lot of kids start their football days. Parents want their kids to play for fun, character building and many other reason. Belts on helmets are tightened and eyeball to eyeball tough looks are given. Hurts are soothed and encouragement is shouted. But then there are many kids who don’t start off with an interest in football. They would much rather play pet games or spend time on virtual games. In such a situation, it is for the parents to start playing with the kids. Making play a habit, encourages kids to get outside the house. It could start with family, and then include friends. Once kids have a taste for play, it is hard for parents to get them back in. Then football, is just the next step!
This summer, get into the habit of playing.