For the alternative is obvious. The quickest, surest way to kill football is to let this viciousness go on. It will degrade not only the coaches and the players but the game itself. I have no doubt that you can get a crowd?a paying crowd?to watch a dirty football game. But you can get a crowd to watch a dog fight, too.
I have two sons. Duane is 7?. David is 3?. I hope they'll both want to play football in high school and college, though I'll never urge them to. My wife Beverly and I decided when it came to naming them that we'd never name a son after me. We don't want our boys to feel any pressure to "be like Daddy."
But if they do want to play, both Beverly and I will be happy about it. We both think football is good for boys, and we think it's utter nonsense to worry about teen-age boys playing football when you let them drive the family car. For every high school boy who gets hurt on the football field, there are dozens hurt in auto accidents.
And football, I honestly believe can be an important part of a boy's life, even if he plays only in high school. The lessons you learn on the football field are the lessons of life. It may sound trite but it's none the less true. Sportsmanship, team play, give-and-take, learning to be a good loser and a gracious winner?they're all-important values, values I want my sons to learn somewhere.
Beverly says that in her high school the boys who weren't out for sports in the afternoons too often hung around drug stores, and later, taverns. They learned to smoke and drink, some of them, and football frowns heavily on both. I still don't smoke or drink, and I think it's mainly the influence of my early days in football that is responsible.
But when and if my boys do play football?high school, college, or professional?I want them playing in games that are hard but cleanly played. There's just no room for the kind of roughhouse tactics that increasingly mar the good name of football. That's why I feel the time has come to speak out against it. That's why I hope my speaking out will do some good.