Yes, dear husband, I know this is going to really p*** you off, so maybe you should just not read this one.
And let me preface this by saying I love football. Some of my best childhood memories are of my brothers’ football games. Whenever I smell cigarette smoke and hot chocolate on a crisp fall day, I’m transported back to watching my brothers run around that field in incomprehensible patterns that everyone else seemed to understand. When I grew a little and finally understood too, I loved watching the games.
But one thing my dad always said about football is, it teaches you character. Of course, my dad was a man who had character no matter what was going on. He was a man of honor, a cop, a former soldier and fire fighter, a man who did the right thing no matter how tempting the wrong thing was. He never made excuses for us if we screwed up — you do the right thing or you suffer the consequences. And he would be so ashamed of us, we wouldn’t risk it. So I grew up not breaking the law, not cheating on my taxes, not taking my marital vows lightly. It’s a matter of honor.
So when I see something like bounties being paid to football players who hurt other players, like we saw with the New Orleans Saints and I’m sure other teams who have gotten away with it, I see men with no honor, no character. And to me, that’s not football.
Look at the head-injury situation with athletes. We worship them when they’re young and amazing on the field, and when they get old and struggle with chronic depression and Parkinsons-like symptoms, we don’t pay any attention. The sport’s dangerous enough without bounties!
My daughter no longer plays soccer, a game she loved, because during a game against a team without the same level of skill, two players appeared to target her as she ran to the goal. They both hit her at the same time, one on each side, making a weak attempt to look like they were going for the ball. This maneuver had been done a few times in the course of the game. Rachel’s leg was twisted by the way they hit her, and her knee has never been the same. It wasn’t a huge tear that could be surgically repaired, so it took a year for the extensive micro-tears to get back to “normal,” and the knee still hurts. She had no desire to play again — if micro-tears hurt that bad, why would she risk a major tear?
And the sad thing? Rachel’s team still won the game, so this other team ruined a kid’s knee and sport for nothing.
When you put it on a personal level like that, you realize the old “it’s a business” argument doesn’t cut it. It’s not just a business. It’s people, and their safety and health. And if the football “industry” is going to behave like this, I don’t want my son to have anything to do with it. I want my son to learn to be a man of honor and character like his grandpa (and his father, of course). And apparently a big section of the football world has no honor or character.