Football is under attack, but the game and the values it instills in young men are critical to our society.
The game of football is under attack.
We see it every day in the headlines and on the news. The medical concerns are pressing. The game has taken its share of criticism. President Barack Obama said that if he had boys he wouldn’t let them play football. Even LeBron James has publicly said no football in his house.
The question is asked over and over: Why would anyone want to play football? And why would anyone let their kids play?
Here’s my answer: I believe there’s practically no other place where a young man is held to a higher standard.
Football is hard. It’s tough. It demands discipline. It teaches obedience. It builds character.
Football is a metaphor for life.
This game asks a young man to push himself further than he ever thought he could go. It literally challenges his physical courage. It shows him what it means to sacrifice. It teaches him the importance of doing his job well. We learn to put others first, to be part of something bigger than ourselves. And we learn to lift our teammates – and ourselves – up together.
These are rare lessons nowadays.
Football has faced challenges like this before.
In 1905, there were 19 player deaths and at least 137 serious injuries. Many of these occurred at the high school and college levels. Major colleges said they were going to drop football because the game had become too violent.
That’s when President Teddy Roosevelt stepped in to call a meeting with coaches and athletic advisers from Harvard, Princeton and Yale. He wanted to find a way to make the game safer. They made significant changes, introducing new rules like the forward pass and the wide receiver position. Those changes turned football more into the game we know it as today.
We made progress. Rules changed. Society evolved. The game advanced.
We’re at another turning point in our sport. The concussion issue is real and we have to face it.
We have to continue to get players in better helmets. We have to teach tackling the right way, and that starts at the NFL level. Change the rules. Take certain things out of the game. It’s all the right thing to do.
But even with all of that, the importance of football hasn’t changed. In some ways, it’s more important than ever.
And I believe the most critical place for football is at the youth and high school levels. For 97 percent of football players, the pinnacle of their careers is the high school game. Few players ever go on to the college level. Even less make it to the pros.
For a lot of these kids, it’s not until it’s all said and done, and they look back on it several years later, that they realize the difference the sport made in their lives. They are proud of playing the game. Have you ever met anybody who accomplished playing four years of high school football, and at the end of that run said, ‘Man, I wish I wouldn’t have played’? It doesn’t get said.
We know that football players aren’t perfect. Nobody is. But millions of former players, one by one, can recount the life-altering principles they learned from football.
They know the value of football is the values in football.
That’s why high school football – and particularly high school coaches – play such a vital role in our society. Our football coaches are on the front lines of the battle for the hearts and minds of the young men in our society. The culture war is on and we see it every day. These young men are more vulnerable than ever.
How many youth and high school coaches serve as a father figure to their players? How many mothers look to the coaches of their son’s football team as the last best hope to show their son what it means to become a man – a real man? More than we’ll ever know.
Coaches teach our young people the lessons of life that very often they learn from no one else. Coaches have the kind of influence in our schools, and with our young people, that is difficult to come by.
Billy Graham once said, “One coach will influence more people in one year than the average person will do in a lifetime.” My dad also says all the time that it just takes one person to believe in a young man or young woman to change their lives. I couldn’t agree more.
Our culture teaches us to judge an activity by how it’s going to make us feel right now. But football doesn’t work that way. The game challenges and pushes us. It’s often uncomfortable. It requires us to be at our best.
Isn’t that what we want in our society?
Football is a great sport. Football teams can be, and very often are, the catalyst for good in our schools and our communities. Millions of young men have learned lessons in football that they could only learn through playing this game. Football has saved lives.
3 Ways your child will benefit from playing youth football!
3 ways your child will benefit from playing youth football
Thu, 08/01/2013 - 9:48am
Players benefit physically, socially and emotionally from playing football
Football is blue-collar America. It’s working class, working together.
In this game – America’s favorite game – there are no isolation plays that cast a team aside. Nor are there intentional walks to avoid an obstacle.
In life, like in football, the easy route is rarely an option.
Reflecting early America, football fields are wide and open, but a stout defense – like challenging terrain – can hinder the most determined advance.
And great teams are united, like the states we call home.
By playing this sport, young athletes learn football’s timeless qualities of leadership, responsibility, perseverance and teamwork.
The passion evoked by football is as timeless as its values of sacrifice and discipline, standing forever firm regardless of society’s swings.
Every year, nearly 3 million children age 6 to 14 take to football fields across America to play the game they love. They may not realize it, but these young athletes are enjoying the benefits of physical exercise while learning life lessons through the sport.
Studies show that being physically active through football lowers body fat, strengthens muscles and increases the likelihood of continuing good health habits later in life.
Football introduces young players to new social groups and to a set of coaches who serve as role models.
Research shows athletes tend to have higher levels of self-esteem and lower levels of depression.
To the kids, though, the game is about fun, friendships and camaraderie. It’s about achieving success or learning from failure then lining right back up to try again.
Football has captured America’s imagination for a century, but its best days are still ahead.
There’s no better time to be a part of the game than right now.
Dr. Carr and former NFL football player Hardy Nickerson - THE BENEFITS OF FOOTBALL
The late Brandon Weaver Teaching & Living the 10 Things to his players! Click Here for His Tough Story
Brandon was a linebacker and captain for me at one of the many university football programs that I had taken over nearly 12 years ago. However, Brandon was not just another player. He was a passionate kid, who was always 'All-In', and was a God loving leader of men and boys. He made those around him better, all of us. You can read the tragic story of how Brandon was killed last week if you click on the picture above, but it appears that he was shot as he returned to a birthday party that his young son had attended where the adults had been drinking and he had tried to get them to do the right thing. As I think of Brandon and his passion for kids, I want to honor him and share with you 10 things I know were important to him and should be important to all of us in developing ourselves and our own people at work and especially, our kids at home.
10 THINGS EVERYONE SHOULD LEARN IN THE 21st CENTURY
1. To Be PassionatePassion drives everything...to many of us lack passion due to the numerous choices we have every day. Look at the picture above and ask yourself... "When do I act like that?"
If you and I lack passion, we lack conviction and if we lack conviction as a leader we have no influence.
2. To Be Comfortable being UncomfortableThis is the Navy SEAL's definition of mental toughness. We have become soft in today's world. I once saw Brandon eat a live cricket to impress my 8 year old son after practice, uncomfortable! Are you and I comfortable with being in the middle of adversity or do we bail or blame others? Teach others to embrace adversity and fight through it.
3. To Possess Integrity Integrity seems to be a word of choice in today's world as we see our leaders live double lives or not do the right thing because it is hard. People follow those that lead and practice integrity consistently. Brandon was a what you see is what you get man, no false fronts with him and he demanded that others practice integrity also.
4. To Be Relentless People today must be taught how to persevere and never quit. We live in a world where transfer rates at our colleges and jobs are as high as they have ever been in our country. We must model relentlessness to our people daily, we must not just give up and move on while we make excuses for our lack of creativity and perseverance. I wish you could have seen Brandon play as a Linebacker...he was RELENTLESS!
5. To Respect Authority In an age where people look down on their leaders and very rarely say, "Yes Sir or Yes Mam" we need to teach our people and children how to look people in the eye and respect them without the leader having to do anything to earn it. Brandon grew up in Georgia and he showed me respect from the very first day he met me and I had done nothing to earn it other than to be named his coach.
6. To Have Meaningful Relationships In an age where we have thousands of Twitter followers and hundreds of 'Friends' on Facebook, how many real relationships do we have? We must remember and teach others that relationship drives everything and it is still what every human soul craves. Brandon had many strengths, however his authenticity and friendship was his greatest asset.
7. To Be Held Accountable We all must learn to hold ourselves accountable and teach others to be held accountable. We live in an era where excuses are the norm and it is always someone else's responsibility. I used to tell Brandon and still use it often today, "Remember, you and I either coaching that or we are allowing it to happen...there is no in between."
8. Not Everyone Wins... Win without Bragging and Lose without Whining We must teach our people and our kids that everyone does not win and everyone does not get the promotion or a trophy. We must teach them how to be humble in success and take ownership in defeat. You can tell by how the kids (that Brandon coached in youth sports) talk about him that he lived out and taught them this principle.
9. To Be Patient I was taught by a mentor of mine that if I am impatient it is about me and if I am patient it means I am thinking about the other person. Remember, that things that are built to last are not built fast... and that includes ourselves and those that we lead. We all need to be more patient.
10. It's about Others not just You...Be Dependable The Pirate baseball organization has a saying, "May your greatest ability as a player be your Depend-Ability". In a "me" world, we must force ourselves to choose to be "we" driven rather than "me" driven. Brandon exemplified this as businessman, player, husband, father and coach...even to his death.
Thank you for allowing me to honor a friend and hopefully give you and I some important things to focus on as we lead ourselves and others the rest of this year and in 2015. I also hope you will keep Brandon's wife, Heather in your prayers this Christmas along with his three young boys.
What will your Legacy be? What will people say you taught or modeled to them after you are gone?
3 reasons to encourage your children to play multiple sports
Jackie Bledsoe Jr.
A few years ago my nephew was entering his freshman year of high school and was splitting playing time on his high school varsity and junior varsity basketball teams. One of his friends was also playing on the varsity team.
I heard a lot of promising things about this kid, and when I watched him he didn't disappoint. The kid ended up being a starter on the varsity team and their best player.
A couple years later, the squad was one of the best high school teams in the state, but what intrigued me most was the fact that two of their main players were also football standouts: the friend I mentioned earlier and another kid.
In a time when many kids begin to specialize in one sport, these two continued to play two sports and played them at high levels. Both were encouraged to focus on one by outsiders. The reason being that focusing on one sport would allow them to develop, and it could keep them from getting hurt, thus ruining their chances in the other sport.
One of them, Gary Harris, was a first round pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, and the other, Randy Gregory, is playing for the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team and being compared to both Jadeveon Clowney and Jevon Kearse. I think both have benefited from playing football and basketball.
Their success and the success of many other two-sport athletes who are excelling in the NFL makes a strong case for playing multiple sports not only as younger athletes, but at higher levels as well. Here are three reasons to encourage your kids to not specialize, but play multiple sports as long as they enjoy playing them and are able to compete.
1. Increased athleticism. Playing multiple sports develops your body and muscles in various movements. Playing and training for different sports requires you to be able to different athletic moves well. The lateral movements and vertical leaps of basketball players benefit football players, especially tight ends and receivers.
2. Fewer injuries. Today's young athletes seem to suffer some of the same injuries that professional and high-level college athletes do. Many believe it is because the trend is to specialize at an early age, which puts many more "miles" or wear and tear on their muscles at a younger age. Using different muscles for different sports can reduce that wear and tear.
3. Discipline and confidence. The discipline to train your body and mind to play different sports is highly valuable. Each sport requires different disciplines, which constantly challenge athletes physically and mentally. An athlete can also take the success of one sport and use that as confidence builder in another. Learning to overcome challenges translates across the board.
If your kid enjoys multiple sports, encourage them to keep playing both as long as they can. Doing so does not guarantee them a spot on the NFL Draft board or the draft board of any other sport, but it can help them in many ways. And you never know. That skill they developed playing basketball or another sport may give them a unique ability on the football field which enables them to stand out and excel.