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American Football Matters More Now Than Ever Before


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American football players at every level are our betters. From Pop Warner to the NFL they show us how to get up after being knocked down, how to play after a painful hit, and how to listen.


Even with helmets and pads and identifying uniforms, American football is a hurting game. Helmet to helmet hits can cause brain injury. Helmet to arm hits? With no arm padding it hurts quite a bit, but not enough to sit out.


Every boy whose dad had football trophies on the mantle grew up knowing one thing early. They would be football players and put their trophy up with their dad. No question about it.


Every mom who had a father with football trophies lined up want their kids to play to show daddy they aren’t raising sissy boys, in spite of what he thinks of her husband.


American football is about education. You can’t play without the right GPA. If you’re good enough to play in college, you still need the grades. Making it to the NFL isn’t possible for every player, but don’t tell them.


We admire football players for their toughness. They make us tougher. If Tony Romo can play with broken ribs that might puncture his lung, we can’t complain about the blister we got from raking the yard. If Peyton Manning fumbles the first snap in a Super Bowl, we can endure the shame of setting the table with the fork on the wrong side.


As we age, no matter how old you are, and see a player going beast mode breaking tackles, then we can stand up from a couch so much easier. Even if they squat 600 lbs and you struggle just standing up, they make it better.


The analytics of American football, from film work, to play design, to logging tendencies of opponents based on down and distance, make us dig deeper for our own success. Are we doing enough, studying enough, reading enough? Do we have enough information for actionable plans? Lifelong learning and Fantasy Football leagues go hand in hand.


Are we still together on this?


Football teams show us what it means to be resilient. The Oregon Ducks lost their starting quarterback and running back and didn’t fold. Instead they pulled it out against Cal, a big win for the home team. Then they lost their second string quarterback. Will they forfeit their season? No, because they’re not quitters. Why would we quit on anything?


American football shows us how to protest with #takeaknee, or linking arms, during the National Anthem. Standing quietly to address what we’ve all seen on television, or first hand, NFL players are on the leading edge of a national debate. Multiracial teams in different colored uniforms come together in solidarity better than we do with our neighbors and friends.


Aaron Rodgers gets it right with, ““It’s never been about the national anthem, it’s never been about the military. We’re all patriotic in the locker room, we love our troops. This is about something bigger than that. An invitation to show unity in the face of some divisiveness from the top in this country.


If you ever played the game, you played hurt. From a helmet to upper arm hit that caused a muscle spasm that prevented you from straightening your arm, you played with a soccer shin guard taped on it. You played with a separated shoulder that took eight rolls of tape to hold together. You played with infected feet from a bad ankle tape job that dug through the back of your heels. That’s football.


Even if you never played a down of any football game and never suited up except for Halloween, but still love watching grown men slam into each other, American football matters more now than ever.


The players are sending a message of dedication, training, conditioning, and most of all, solidarity with the idea of a better America. So what’s the problem? Are they stepping out of the comfort zone we created for them? Yes. Are they going outside the lane we want them to stay in? Yes. And it’s about time.


We pay attention to the NFL or reason’s beyond the games, whether it’s gambling, binge drinking, the pageantry of game day. Now we pay attention for something closer to our heart. This isn’t Martin Luther King talking about a dream from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.


Or is it?


“Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.


I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.


I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”


I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.


I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.


I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.


I have a dream today.


I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor’s lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.


I have a dream today.


I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”



Linked arms and #takeaknee works for me. How about you?
About David Gillaspie
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