The questionable role of football

Ronald Dixon

The recent NFL controversies concerning alleged drug use, shoplifting, domestic violence and child abuse have led me to question who exactly is inspired by these professional athletes. The answer unfortunately is that young high school teenagers are typically the most influenced by these supposed “role models.”

Indeed, when young people, particularly boys, are bombarded with the message that football is the key to popularity and success, they may be motivated to pursue it as a career.

This is, by no means, always a bad thing. Many individuals have a legitimate interest in football and are fulfilled by competing in these activities. However, in our society, we place too much emphasis on athletic abilities rather than academic success.

When young athletes see NFL players get caught performing morally egregious acts, such as beating their partners, these high school students — who likely weren’t exposed to thorough discussions on these complex and controversial topics — may excuse those behaviors as perfectly acceptable.

Football culture isn’t the only thing that may harm young people, though. Brain damage resulting from physical contact involved with aggressive sports like football has long-term implications, such as higher rates of memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease.

Addressing this issue would take a complete overhaul of the way school districts, parents and students view high school football.

If children are exposed to football culture, then their parents and coaches should create an environment where these kids don’t grow up with a twisted moral compass and health problems. For the sake of young people, we need a dramatic paradigm shift on how we view football, both on the professional and the high school level.