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The Hypocrisy and Motivation in the Attack on Youth Football

 Written by Dave Cisar on February 25th, 2013.


Dave Cisar is a prominent youth football coach from Nebraska. Mr. Cisar conducts coaching clinics throughout the country and is well respected for both his fine coaching attributes and his upbeat perspective on youth football.


On the surface the attempts to ban youth football may appear to be the work of people concerned for the well-being and safety of the young boys who play the game. I may even give some of the “banners” the benefit of the doubt and say maybe they are responding emotionally in a knee jerk reaction to a specific incident. But when you look a little closer at the base argument and at some of those making it, it can appear a little fishy. If the goal is safety then the selective indignation over youth football seems to be a bit misplaced. Could there be other factors in play here? Could there be other motivations for this piling on of a simple youth sporting event?


There are well meaning and honorable people asking us to take a closer look at this. But is it possible that some promoting an out-right ban on youth football may be motivated by less than selfless intentions for public safety? I will add I’m not a political person and I support no party or candidate and that I believe there are good, honest and honorable people throughout the political spectrum. This isn’t meant to be a political attack. Most of us see sports as a refuge away from the political battles that are being waged every day if this offends anyone, my apologies.


If you look at the low hanging fruit, there are some that may be motivated by financial gain. By most metrics the US is the most litigious country in the world. With over $310,000,000 in tort litigation in 2010 and making up over 2.2% of our GNP, suing for financial gain has become a mini growth industry of sorts. Over half of this sum is going to legal fees thanks to our contingency fee system and system that does not monetarily punish those parties who sue and lose. Our society seems to be moving towards a “always find blame in others for my own mistakes and shortcomings” approach in handling our affairs. There are a number of class-action lawsuits in the works right now against the NFL and helmet manufacturers.


Could there be some of this publicity is in play by former players who are looking for a handsome payday from the NFL or helmet manufacturers? Could it be that even though former NFL players have a life expectancy far greater than the everyday American are looking for another hefty paycheck? Is it all possible some may have squandered great wealth and opportunity and look at this as another way to cash in on the “McDonalds Hot Coffee” suing sweepstakes?


Youth football may be under attack because it represents traditional American culture and values. Football is both uniquely American and uniquely masculine. Youth football is as uniquely American as apple pie and the hamburger sandwich.  It is the only major team sport played almost exclusively by men. That simply isn’t the case for basketball, soccer, baseball/softball or any other major team sport. Even hockey is now co-ed. Look at the Olympics, they just dropped wrestling, even though it is still popular and was an original Greek Olympic event. Wrestling is going to be replaced with a co-ed sport of: karate, wakeboarding, wushu, squash or sports climbing. See a trend here?


There is a subset of our culture that dislikes anything that is uniquely masculine or uniquely American. They have a mindset that these boorish physically violent masculine type activities are somehow primitive and don’t fit into their view of us following the more sophisticated, civilized and inclusive European model. I’m not saying I agree with them or that they are wrong, what I am saying is this group may look at banning football not because of safety issues but because of their dislike for what it stands for.


There are others that are interested in fighting to “flip the culture.” For whatever reason there is a subset of our culture who are dissatisfied with America’s traditional values. Football is as traditionally American as Thanksgiving and pumpkin pie. For some of these people.  getting rid of something that is uniquely American and part of our long standing culture would be a huge win. What is more American than having a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with family followed by us all sitting down to watch a football game on the tube followed by some pumpkin pie? If they could destroy that, it would be something they could thumb their noses at the rest of us with, wouldn’t it?


Some of this crowd sees us as nothing more than a bunch of old fashioned, uneducated country bumpkins who don’t have a clue about what’s best for ourselves. They would like nothing else but to lead us to their vision of nirvana, which of course would not include a competitive uniquely American masculine physical team sport like football. Ever talk to a pointy headed intellectual about how they feel about how the people in Georgia who love their football or how the people in Alabama love catfish and hushpuppies or how Iowans have a thing for thick cut pork chops and red-eye gravy or how the good people of Texas appreciate a nice chicken fried steak? Well I have and if smirking or condescending talk were crimes, the pointy heads might be sentenced to life with no chance for parole. While many of these enlightened open minded people purport to have a live and let live attitude about many issues, I guess when it comes to things like youth football and deep fried catfish and hushpuppies, they think there should be a law banning everyone from having them. I for one am not suggesting tackle football should be mandatory for all, but that it should be an option for those who choose to play. Those that choose not to play can go off in their little corner and do whatever they want to their hearts content.


Then there are the “foundation haters” we all know people like them. When they fail at something or don’t fit in or feel they were slighted at some point in their lives, they look to tear out the foundations of their surroundings to make themselves feel better about themselves. I remember an old college roommate who loved the school he was attending, had nothing but pride for it. Unfortunately he slept till noon everyday, skipped classes and didn’t apply himself. The year before he quit school his attitude toward the school was that it was a “diploma mill’ and that the majority of the kids graduating had cheated to get there. Well that wasn’t true at all, but it made him feel better about himself to attack that foundation. I feel bad for anyone that has been slighted or failed in sports or failed at whatever metrics the mainstream in society would define as success. However,  that doesn’t mean the disaffected  should have the right to deprive others of the opportunity to do things like play a game of tackle football.


As we all know tackle football isn’t the only thing that gets picked on by political opportunists, they will do almost anything to grab a headline. Unfortunately in todays political world there are demagogues and opportunists who love getting attention and headlines associated with attaching themselves to banning something like football. There are bills now in front of both the Illinois and New York Legislatures to ban or significantly restrict the playing of youth football. While Chicago is one of my favorite places to go of all time, their bond rating is rivaling that of third world countries and they will likely go bankrupt with the retirement balloon built into their public servant contracts in the next few years. Do these people really have the time to deal with youth football or maybe this is a distraction to keep people from looking at more pressing issues.


If these “banners” were truly concerned about the health and welfare of young men, wouldn’t they attack where the real threats to the welfare and safety of these children.? There were over 12,000 unintentional deaths in children last year and most of them occurred in cars, bikes, during non football related recreation or in the home. There were over 2.5 million emergency room visits and most were from falls in or nearby the home. The percentage of kids (compared to the number participating) injured playing on playgrounds, monkey bars, bmx bikes, skiing, skateboarding or even playing soccer were either more than or on par with those playing tackle football. Why isn’t there a movement to ban children from cars, bikes and playgrounds?


We often hear “but if just one life can be affected it’s worth it.” Well if you are that one person of course that argument holds a lot of water. But if we never allowed children in cars, we would have saved over 6,000 lives last year. There was no loss of life in youth football last year due to an on the field injury. If that “one life” standard was what we would have to live our lives by, no pharmaceutical company would have ever come up with a cure for polio, there would be no motorcycles or jet skis. For that matter no one would ever be allowed to go swimming, since there were over 1,000 child drowning deaths last year. We seem to live in a society now where a friend said“ allowing anyone to expose themselves to risk, is a human rights atrocity.” But we DO allow people to expose themselves to risk every day. Many of these risks are far greater than those posed by youth football, but again the selective indignation thing rears its ugly head.


Is there risk in participating in youth football? Yes, but the risk for death may pale in comparison to the risk one has from getting to and from those games in the car. Why not everything in moderation? Say you would prefer a lower cancer risk, maybe you give up smoking. Have a problem with overspending, give up the credit cards and eating out. Have diabetes risk in your family, try and keep your weight in check and lay off the sweets and fatty foods. Had a DUI? Maybe you moderate your drinking or only do so at home. Have multiple concussions? Maybe you don’t play football anymore. But an out right ban or severe limitations on everyone including those who have never had a concussion isn’t the answer.


What is next? Youth football is bad for kids so big brother says we can’t play anymore. The game diappears so we wouldn’t be able to watch that football game on TV anymore on Thanksgiving. Well let’s say in 2014 it comes out that my pumpkin pie is somehow extremely fattening and dangerous to children and causing too much harm to the common good,  so that’s banned. The following year it’s determined that watching too much TV is unhealthy and dangerous for kids, too many kids getting sick from not getting enough exercise, so TV banned. When does it stop? When those in power have you conforming to their vision of how you should live your lives. Is that where we are at? Are we going to allow ourselves to be micro-mangaged to the point that we allow the government to tell us which recreational games our kids can and can’t play, including games American children have played for over 130 years?


The next segment will examine the enforceability issues.


Copyright 2013 Cisar Management, all rights reserved. This article may be republished but only if this paragraph and link are included.


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