Football season is upon us, finally. I would venture to say that football has surpassed baseball as America’s pastime. America has a love obsession with football. The NFL leads all professional sports in television ratings. Even though football is immensely popular in America it has been under scrutiny, somewhat deservedly so, about it’s violent nature. It has left many people asking, “Why play football?” I played football from 6th-12th grade, and have coached it for close to a decade. This week I am going to provide and discuss three reasons why it’s a great and beneficial sport.
Recently, legendary NFL coach Bill Parcells was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Parcells gave one of the greatest induction speeches I have ever heard. In his speech Parcells talks about one thing that matters most to the people who play and coach football, “Are you willing to help?” In football you have people together from different races and socioeconomic statuses, but the only thing that matters is if you’re willing to help the team. Are you willing to contribute to the greater good? You see football is a microcosm for life. I carry many of the lessons that were taught to me through football to this day. Parcells hit the nail on the head; it only matters in football if you’re willing to help your teammates. The same is true in the corporate world. Football is a sport that can bring people from diverse backgrounds together and forge lasting, meaningful relationships. When coaches take the time to use football as a tool to teach life lessons it is incredibly powerful. I am convinced that football offers the opportunity to bring young men together, create lasting bonds, and teach life lessons that will carry on. That’s football. That’s why.
This past Friday I coached in one of the hottest games I’ve ever been a part of as a player or coach. Both teams gave tremendous effort and truly left it all out on the field. We came up short and lost by 6, but our kids we’re not losers that night. No one was. Football has a way of bringing something out in yourself that sometimes you didn’t know was there. We had kids cramping up, battling fatigue, and throwing up. By no means did we ever put the kids in a harmful situation. Both teams’ coaches, the officials, and trainer made sure of it. But it was one of those games that took everything from everybody playing. I remember thinking to myself after the game, only in football would you see competitors laying it all on the line. Our starting quarterback was cramping so badly and was so fatigued late in the game, I asked him if he could go out when we got the ball back. He responded, “I can’t fell my right leg, but I’ll give you everything I’ve got.” Now, for obvious reasons, we did not let him go back out there. But his response should tell you something about him and the kids from both teams that night. I will always remember it. Those kids who took the field that night are going to remember that they gave it their best. The next time they face a difficult situation in life, they’ll remember that they’ve faced tough situations before, took challenges head on, and came out better because of it. That’s football. That’s why.
Iconic football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.” One of the things that I carry with me from my playing days of football is a great work ethic. My teammates and I were successful because we worked hard at it. I try to instill the same work ethic and appreciation for hard work in the athletes I coach in football and basketball. Football is a special game because you don’t always have to be the most athletic or skilled group of players. You can overcome a lot with hard work, positive attitude, and togetherness. The same is true in life. Football is great because it builds habits. The habits created through football will help one be successful in life. Three traits that became habit in our high school football program were: hard work, commitment, and pride. I believe those three traits have helped to guide me and bring whatever successes I’ve achieved. Football provides an environment where those habits become embedded and stick with you. That’s football. That’s why.
Football is a game that helps turn boys into men. It brings people from different racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds together. It is a violent game. A game that may not be the same in ten years from now, but it’s still a game that teaches it’s athletes more about themselves and life than any other. Without football I would not be where I am today and would not be the person I am today. People ask, why football? I ask, why not?
Thanks for reading, have a great week, and be an RGP today!