It’s Football Season – Again. How about a blanket? — A very wet blanket.
Atheists have little patience with god worship. We think of ourselves as immune to such foolishness. But, perhaps we have a blind spot where football is concerned. If you worship football, raise your hand. Amen.

Caution. Reading this article may debunk your god.

"Sport was allegedly a focus of attention in the violence that occurred in Littleton, Colorado, in the spring of 1999. The perpetrators of the violence allegedly identified athletes as targets and were described as being on the fringe of the high school social circles." (Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.com)

Consider these recent headlines.

October 11th: "14-year-old accused of hatching high school assault plot" by Kathleen Brady Shea and Samantha Shepherd

"There were three homemade grenades packed with black powder and BBs. There were 30 air-powered guns, modeled to look like real weapons. And there was a genuine 9mm weapon. Their owner was alleged to be a troubled teen who had been bullied so much by other students that he had been home-schooled for the last 18 months, officials said."

Monday August 13th, USA Today, "Three Teens Plead No Contest in Alleged Columbine-Style School Plot" reported by Robert Imrie, Associated Press writer, Green Bay, Wis.

Prosecutors say the teens wanted revenge for bullying and other problems they had at school.

These potential tragedies were averted. However, we're not always so lucky.

"Gunman Opens Fire at Cleveland High School" By Chris Maag and Ian Urbina.

The authorities said the attacker was disgruntled about having been suspended after a fight earlier this week.

And, who could forget the deadliest campus shooting in U.S. history? At least 33 people were killed and several others wounded after a gunman opened fire at Virginia Tech. on April 16, 2007.

There is no doubt there will be more bullied kids who, when they get to their wits end will seek revenge.

Unless we are willing to change our culture, our children will continue to be raised in an atmosphere that promotes adversarial relationships and violent solutions to problems.

We are a nation obsessed with competition. Competition is supposed to encourage creativity and innovation. Sometimes it does, however, competition is like cholesterol. There's the good stuff and the bad stuff.

Competition laced with violence is the bad stuff.

To my knowledge, the only games that REQUIRE violence to win are American football, boxing, wrestling, and the new kid on the block, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, (UFC), the number one no rules, bare fist fighting championship.

What motivates sanctioned bullying called hazing to escalate into heinous crimes?

In September 2003, the Board of Education in Bellmore, NY cancelled the football season at Mepham High School because the hazing of football teammates got out of hand. Got out of hand? Boys were brutally sodomized.

Hazing by boys accustomed to the adrenaline rush that comes when physical violence makes them heroes on the football field is a set-up for the escalation of violence.

American style football as a participatory sport is celebrated, no worshipped, in our schools.

Sure, we also teach cooperation. Team members must cooperate with each other to beat the other team. However, team sports foster cooperation so fierce that players ignore potentially very dangerous injuries putting their team's victory ahead of their own wellbeing.

Alan Schwarz, "In High School Football, an Injury No One Sees" New York Times, September 15,2007, describes how High School football players ignore concussions and lie to their coaches about symptoms to be allowed to stay in the game.

Combine condoned violence with an obsession to win and we've got really big problems.

"Varsity sport is exclusive and schools offer few, if any, opportunities for youth who are not sufficiently skilled or who lack the size required for some sports." (Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.com)

The other "tough guys", the ones that don't aspire to join the team, or who don't make the team, often turn to the streets to engage in combat with other teams called gangs.

How are kids supposed to differentiate between condoned violence, team against team, on the football field, and gang against gang on the streets?

Sure, there are rules of fair play on the playing field. There are rules of fair play on the streets too. Just ask any gang member. There are rules of fair play in warfare too, but nobody is "really" expected to follow them. I don't need to remind the reader of Abu Graib.

When winning becomes too important, cheating is to be expected.

According to Alan Schwarz, parents sometimes attempt to bypass doctor's strong recommendations to keep their kids out of the game until their injuries heal, going so far as tearing up the doctor's form and shopping for another doctor who will give the go ahead for their kid to get back in the game.

When violence is condoned as a means to winning, and when winning becomes too important, cheating is to be expected, riots in stadiums will erupt, hazing will get brutal and sadistic, altercations between teams that refer to themselves as gangs are likely to escalate into feuds, and revenge killings.

We send our youth a double message when we condone a might-makes-right mentality, worship the winners who use violence to win, and then tell them to solve their everyday problems non-violently.

It's not so difficult to understand that victims of bullying, at wits end, will plot revenge.

Are we willing to adjust our values about the condoned use of violence? Are we willing to give up our obsession with football? Are we willing to boycott boxing, wrestling, and Ultimate Fighting Championship to save our kids?


 —M. LaCourt

Please send your comments to:

Marilyn LaCourt
lacourt@wi.rr.com



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