Fall is approaching, and as the temperature goes down, the pigskins go up. Every Friday night at high schools and Saturday afternoons at colleges all across the country, players take to the field to see who can dominate a one-hundred-yard patch of turf. Winners and losers emerge, along with the attendant lessons of sportsmanship, humility, leadership and dealing with disappointment.
But if you follow football, you’re undoubtedly aware of the controversy surrounding brain damage due to concussions suffered by players. Some of the recent higher-profile cases include
- NFL players Ray Easterling and Junior Seau, who committed suicide suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy
- Many others, including Detroit Lions player Eric Kramer, have attempted suicide after spiraling into depression
- A University of Michigan quarterback, who was permitted to return to the game despite having suffered a concussion during play
The tide may be turning, as parents see that the dangers overshadow the benefits of participation in football for their children. The number of high school players has been declining since 2007, while enrollment in less violent sports is up slightly. Stephen Henderson, editorial editor at the Detroit Free Press, reflected in a recent column:
I love the game [of football], love what it teaches young men about hard work and collective effort – but all of those lessons are available through activities that don’t involve repeated, crushing blows to the head.
Fortunately, the benefits of learning through hard work and collective effort, along with the fun that sports brings, can be enjoyed in a physically safe environment through Scouting.
Football is deeply ingrained in our culture. Fall weekends belong to the gridiron and the players who provide the entertainment. It’s on television virtually every minute of every weekend. Boys dream of playing the game in front of crowds, making money and living the good life. Some even view it as a ticket out of poverty. But much of this frenzy is driven by the commercial side of the sport – the for-profit professional leagues and the huge amount of money in major college sports which steer the culture. The frenzy trickles down to our youth, where hopes are high but a player’s chances of getting recruited are slim if they’re not making a name for themselves by seventh grade.
Scouting is deeply ingrained in our culture too. Our program teaches timeless values – leadership, dealing with adversity, developing character – along with helping others and experiencing the world around us. And it’s not only fun – it’s mom-approved!
As with fall sports, our teams are forming now. There are no tryouts, either – every boy can have a spot on our roster. And they get to wear a uniform, too – helmets not required.
Image: Daniel X. O’Neil / flickr Creative Commons license