Sports in general bring out the competitive nature we all have inside. But when it comes to football the levels of competitiveness seem to increase. Everyone sets their minds on winning. Whether it be just winning the next game or a looking further on to a championship title, it seems to be the main focus of teams across the country. Football teams from youth sports/ HS sports to the National Football League, demonstrate high demands towards winning. At the end of a season the goal is to achieve the highest level of success, in this case would be a championship of some sort. Winning sectionals/states or the Super Bowl exemplifies the hard work endured throughout the season. The question is, to what extreme are coaches/ staff and players willing to go to, to win it all. According to “Football High” an episode of Frontline on PBS in 2011, there are many teams across several states, willing to risk everything for that winning season. But how far is too far?
Whether being ego based is ethically correct or not, we all have a desire to win. Showing it is one thing, but somewhere in all athletes is the urge to go out and compete at the highest level we can and succeed. Football is one of the sports that has organized leagues starting from youth to the professional league. Starting from very young ages, kids are seeing football played at many levels which causes them to want to grow up to be just like these other athletes that are now on bigger stages. The NFL has been televised since before I was even born, now showing games on multiple days of the week. College football has their own day for televised sports; college gameday Saturday. While high school football programs play a lot of their games on Friday nights; “Friday night lights”. Every where we look as a society, football is either being talked about or broadcasted on TV channels. This has caused high school teams to attract more attention. High school football is a big deal because of the potential of the athletes for the future, such as being drafted into the NFL. Aside from that fans love football no matter what level it is.
Professional, college or high school people love high school football simply because it’s football.
High school teams and programs across the country are now risking more so that they have winning achievements. Every team wants to be undefeated, win sectionals and/or states. In order to achieve this level of excellence, programs are overconforming to norms. Whether that be their recruiting player process or the way in which they practice or train in the offseason. Programs are pushing these student athletes to their breaking points. Just in order to have an increased reputation and overall better seasons than previously. Referring to the documentary “Football High” athletes are having to participate in practices during inappropriate times due to weather for example. Practices are being done despite severity in heat and or cold. Some athletes are playing through injuries and risking their well beings just to finish games or the season. Everyone involved are trying to meet the expectations of the sport. The problem is they are failing to recognize their limits.
It is sometimes hard to believe the number of head trauma cases we are still seeing coming from the sport itself. Although football is a tough hard-hitting sport, most recent case studies have called for increased safety. Both with equipment and with rules and regulations on the field during play. Still, we are seeing concussions as the number one cause of injury in football. It doesn’t matter what level of the sport is being played these injuries are still appearing. Seeing these types of injuries occurring not only in the pros but in youth and HS sports as well, are kind of alarming statistics. From what we now know, repeated head trauma is causing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Since symptoms don’t usually occur until years following the injuries, it isn’t stopping anyone from playing the sport right away. Athletes at younger ages are saying things like I’m only going to be young once, this is my time to play football, I will worry about those types of things later. Athletes are not aware of the damage they can be doing to their bodies now, despite the affects of CTE often getting worse overtime with the possibility of developing dementia. There are over a hundred NFL players identified with having CTE. I can’t imagine having early onset of CTE with athletes at even younger ages. Seeing these alarming facts occurring from playing football caused me to look up additional information regarding concussions and its effects on these players. How multiple concussions to an athlete in a short period of time has effects. Even how CTE can develop to a player without being diagnosed with concussions but instead head injury or impact.
Football has always been my favorite sport, to watch, play and talk about. Despite being a fan of multiple different sports, something has always drawn me to football. The excitement, the talent, the underdog stories, the competitiveness, the rivalries, everything about the sport adds up to making it my personal favorite. Although football with always be my favorite sport, I am however looking at the sport in a new light. I have always known about the dangers and injury concerns that come from playing the sport, but after watching the “Football High” documentary I am seeing the sport a little bit differently. The risks athletes face are not only at the professional level, but all the way down to youth sports. Football is football, meaning it is always going to be that competitive, tough sport that it is. So, any player at any age is susceptible to these types of injuries and dangers. But with the intensity in which high school sports are following, it is scary to think of kids of all ages suffering from the same types of trauma as adults. Not that it is okay at any age but to a younger less developed mind and body enduring these types of injuries makes you stop and think. If you had the choice to sign your child up for youth football knowing all these things, would you?