Football should build moral character

Posted on November 16, 2015
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November 16, 2015

I was at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Dallas Cowboys NFL game in Tampa yesterday, November 15. Every time Cowboys player, Greg Hardy’s, name was mentioned in the play by play reports, a huge percentage of the over 64,000 people in the crowd screamed a chant of “Hardy sucks! Hardy sucks! Hardy sucks!”.
Hardy was convicted of very badly beating his then girlfriend and had been suspended for a year. He appealed the conviction and settled a civil suit with the woman. She didn’t turn up at his appeal of the conviction so it was quashed.
He signed a $13 million contract with the Dallas Cowboys. After the NFL reduced his suspension after a hearing with no push back from the people hearing his defence, he was free to play.
After that, police photographs of the beaten victim surfaced. Tampa Bay Times sports columnist, Tom Jones, dedicated a large sports section front page commentary condemning Hardy, the Dallas Cowboys organization, especially owner Jerry Jones, other teams including Tampa Bay who tried to sign Hardy and the entire NFL and Cowboys fans for supporting Hardy’s presence. Hardy, by the way, is six feet four inches tall and weighs 278 lbs.
Football is a violent sport where very big violent men, many from troubled, violent histories are paid huge sums to be violent. For many of them, violence has been their history and the asset that brings them tens of millions of dollars. Many of them wind up crippled, concussed and suicidal from the game. Many of them were, are or will be criminals.
I’m starting to feel guilty for enjoying it so much. It is part chess, part tremendous athleticism, part special forces type discipline and training, part fitness, endurance and tolerance of pain.
When I was a teen, my school and town had teams in another very violent game. The game is rugby and, at that time, it was sometimes called a game for ruffians played by gentlemen. Good sportsmanship and fair play were part of the training. We had to applaud great plays by the other team. We shared the same dressing rooms. We were expected to help opponents to their feet. We were even supposed to say, “Good tackle” when we were brought down. When tempers did flare, the game stopped until the participants shook hands.
I think that element of rugby may have declined since I was a boy.
I think it should not have and that it should be made part of American football from the time children take up the game. Sports was long supposed to be about character building. If it were applied to football, it could be the salvation of the game and the souls of the player not to mention the physical safety of myriad women.
In one of former Green Bay Packer Jerry Kramer’s books he told of a rant iconic coach Vince Lombardi, for whom the Super Bowl trophy is named, used to level at players in practice. He’d go to a player who was slacking and scream, “Don’t cheat! If you cheat in practice, you’ll cheat in the game. If you cheat in the game, you’ll cheat in life!”.
That should become a guiding mantra of football. DAC

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