History Lesson

It has been a rough couple of weeks for the sport I… WE … love.

  • A study just released showed participation in youth football leagues across the country was down 10% last year… a significant hit (pun intended) and is attributed to fear of injury … specifically head injuries… on the parents part.
  • You can see the posturing for litigation beginning as former NFL stars test, and show signs, of CTE … chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
  • The “Locker Room” culture in the NFL, from hazing and bullying to overall bad behavior on some NFL teams, has been exposed and laid bare.

It’s not the first time football has been under siege, but it might be the most critical battle since our sport was almost banished in 1905 after 18 people died playing football.  A few things that happened in that year (1905) that saved the sport:


There were several rule changes that were implemented that made the game inherently safer. These included …

  • Creating a neutral zone at the line of scrimmage
  • Increasing the yards to gain for a first down from 5 to 10
  • Legalizing the forward pass.

A prominent spokesperson stood up and defended the value of the sport – Teddy Roosevelt. Roosevelt believed that participating in sports “had an excellent effect in increased manliness.” He spoke specifically about football

“In short, in life, as in a football game, the principle to follow is: Hit the line hard; don’t foul and don’t shirk, but hit the line hard!”

Roosevelt also convened a group that would eventually become the NCAA.

Fast-forward nearly 110 years…  Let’s learn from History.

New rules have recently been implemented that will, in the long run, make football safer.

There are currently some prominent people that are stepping up to address the virtues of our sport.   Tom Brady during an interview on MNF last week spoke about why football is such a great sport…

“That’s what football is all about… that’s why it’s such a great sport… it’s so much more than just athleticism.. It’s mental toughness, it’s discipline… it’s doing the right thing… it’s being selfless… it’s being part of a team”

Hall of Fame quarterback, and three-time Super Bowl champion Steve Young of the San Francisco 49ers addressed the locker room culture in the NFL.  He said, without hesitation, that there is no room for it (hazing) in the sport.  He said when Bill Walsh came to the 49ers in 1979-80 he told his players that there would not be any “hazing” of the rookies… that they (the veterans) were to welcome and give them every opportunity to succeed, make the squad, and make our team better.  His legacy, record, and three Super Bowl titles speaks to the success of that attitude.

We need not wait for a prominent spokesperson to step up and save football in 2013…. It is up to us as coaches … as the most knowledgeable and important advocates regarding the benefits of our sport.  We know, can, and should articulate everything that is great about football.  We need to be at the forefront of this discussion, proactively promoting the values of participating in our sport.

Without a doubt it is a risk/ reward decision that has to be made regarding participation in football.  I believe, and always will, that the rewards far outweigh the risks associated with playing.

If you want to read more about how Teddy Roosevelt saved football, John Miller has written a book about it – The Big Scrum – How Teddy Roosevelt saved football
or you can read about it on the History Channel site here – How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football.

Thanks again to PrepsKC for running this column both online and in their weekly print magazine. If you get a chance to go and visit their site and “Like” this post, I would appreciate it!

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you.. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com