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Friday, September 5, 2014


It is the start of another season of the greatest of all American sports, football. 

Every year the game gets a bit more violent.  The players are bigger.  The players are faster.  The players are stronger and better trained every year.  There is much discussion lately of concussions and serious injury in football.  I fear this great game may be in danger of disappearing years down the road unless it can somehow be made safer.

Strangely enough, one of the things that makes football dangerous is the equipment.  I remember when I played in high school hearing some kids talk about how rough they were because they played playground tackle football without pads.  I would tell them yeah, you may get a few scrapes and bruises, but without that helmet no one was going to drive their head into your sternum, lift you off the ground and then slam you into the turf knocking the wind out of you.  That is how we were taught to tackle, and that is how we did it in drills.  Helmets and pads only allow you to be more violent.

I played football in school for five years.  I didn’t really like playing that much.  I liked the comradery of my teammates.  I liked the games…when we won.  I liked the small amount of status being on the team gave me.  The practice, the time, the pain, I didn’t like so much. 

I played in college for about a week when I realized I didn’t like playing anymore and I really wasn’t good enough to play at that level.  I probably would not have been accepted to my school if it was not for football, I was glad for that, but I didn’t think I owed anyone anything so I turned in my gear.  After five years of organized football the last word I heard was when I turned in my gear and the coach simply spat out, “Quitter!” 

I felt like a quitter too.  No more.  I have since learned as much as I love the game, it soon becomes much more, and I also learned that most…well many football coaches are complete buttheads.  Oh, and by the way it may be fifty years later, but to the coach who called me quitter…FUCK YOU!! 

Well that feels better.

It is a great game though.  The best days of playing football were in the back yard. 

Three on three. 

Two hand touch below the waist.

Four downs to score.  No field goals, no PAT’s.

Kick-offs and punts were actually long throws.

There was no blocking.

You pass rushed only after three Mississippi.

Plays were simple and drawn up in the huddle on the palm of your hand.

There were several pass patterns that everyone knew; buttonhook, stop and go, down and out, down and in, zig-zag, pitch and lateral.

Someone’s kid brother (for many years…me) was always designated center who would be allowed one touchdown play a game cleared by the other team after a wink and a nod.

On fourth down you had to declare, “Kick or Stick!”

There were no penalties, committed or called.  There was no smack talk and no cheap shots.

Most games ended with “Next touchdown wins.”

I love watching the big guys play, but the most fun I had playing was in the back yard.


  1. i think my husband has long-lasting effects from a few tough hits he took.

  2. Good for you. We each do what we want and you did that. I like your parting words to that coach too. I was thinking about the same thing.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

  3. I always considered football a legal form of hurting people. It morphed, of course, into hurting wives, and I'll stop there, and spare you the rest of my opinion.

  4. I'm sure it won't come as a surprise to hear that I've never been into sports, but it does seem to me that playing a game is much more fun than watching it from the comfort of a couch. I guess I'm still looking for the right game.

  5. You are probably on to something about the equipment allowing the sport to become more violent. I remember Dan Marino saying after the Hall of Fame awards that most of the awardees walked to the platform with a limp.
    I still watch but wouldn't want any family member to play.

  6. I played powderpuff football as a junior in high school. We beat the seniors. It was ugly. That was the end of my interest in football.

  7. As a member of the marching band, I was very glad our school had a football team. I used to be a Rams fan back in the days of ol' cryin' Dick Vermeil and Kurt Warner. Not so much anymore. Mike Martz was not my cup of tea as a head coach. That's when they lost me. I am shocked that the loss of my viewership has not brought the franchise to their knees.

  8. Football in Australia is played without helmets and pads, I'm not sure about the game we call rugby, which is closer to your football I think, maybe they wear some kind of protective gear.

  9. What Joanne Noragon said. When we moved to Florida while my youngest son was in high school, we specifically looked for the high school with an unremarkable football team. Not that he played (he's not into sports anyway), but I'm of the opinion that hobbies should be paid for by the people that pursue them, not by the school that is supposed to educate your mind. Physical fitness - yes. But football has nothing to do with educating children (in my humble opinion).

  10. Yay football! I like watching it, but i'm concerned about the dangers, too. I especially feel bad for these young men who see themselves an invincible and play despite knowing the risks. What would their older/future selves say to them, if they could?


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