Monday, October 04, 2010

    Passing on Football

    I know that some people consider football a religion. In fact, I love the game. I love the roar of the crowd, the impossible plays, and last minute touchdowns. For a short time, before I realized I was much more suited for swimming or golf, I even attempted playing football. But now I'm beginning to wonder if I can still support a game I used to love so much?

    A lot of our youth play on the local football teams. Some are very good and may even earn scholarships to play at the collegiate level. As someone who wants to support youth, it seems important to show up to the games. Is it hypocritical though, to now wonder if I should support youth playing football?

    All of the new research coming out, which supports the anecdotal evidence that has been there for years, demonstrates that playing football can have detrimental effects on the brain. A recent article in the New Yorker compares the brutality of dog fighting to that of football.

    I haven't had this conversation with any youth yet. In part, probably, because I can guess how the conversation will go. But if we are really going to claim we are Christians and followers of Christ, should we support a game that promotes injury, competition, and violence? The answer seems clear enough.


    Ben said...

    You have to remember that in the early 1900s, football was so violent a game that the President nearly put a national ban on it. Then they shaped things up and things were able to continue. How can we "shape things up" today?

    Brian said...

    You are pretty bold taking on an issue like this in a football town! I have to admit I've been persuaded in both directions on this issue. I can see the play of competitive sports (even the "violent" ones) in secular culture, but I'm pretty sure it won't hurt (and may help) the Church if we avoid them in our youth ministries altogether.

    Gies said...

    As a former football player and current youth pastor and football coach I see it a different way. Football doesn't promote injury, physical activity promotes injury. Running is the most injurious activity in the US. Football, done correctly, is as injury prone as any other. It is NOT the same as dog fighting. The dogs have no choice, people do have a choice to play. I've never seen an injured player taken off the field and shot...

    Violence, as a general rule was never my intention. I never set out to willfully injure another person. I will concede that this is just my opinion, and I know many folks that did set out to commit violence.

    Competition is where I see the biggest rub. There are a lot of things I would have to stop supporting if I eliminated competition. I would have to stop supporting my students in Spelling Bee's, Science Fairs, Quiz Bowl and all sorts of academic competition. GPA's and even Bible memory can be used as a means of competition. I'm not sure what the answer is, but I'm not sure not supporting competition is the best option.

    I'm glad I played, it paid my way through college and helped me get a job after college to attend seminary. I'm glad I coach b/c it gives me an in with teens I would never have otherwise. But, I know not everyone can support it. Go with your conscience on the issue.