On SHS football picture day, a group of jokester Broncs attempt to make teammates laugh while players get their mugshots Friday night at Homer Scott Field. (The Sheridan Press/Brad Estes)On SHS football picture day, a group of jokester Broncs attempt to make teammates laugh while players get their mugshots Friday night at Homer Scott Field. (The Sheridan Press/Brad Estes)

State of football: ‘Hell Week’ over mollycoddles

This is Sheridan Press sports editorial.

I haven’t ran until I puked since high school football. My least favorite part of two-a-days was probably the hitting drills. And running sprints while weighed down by pads and a helmet. And hitting drills. Because I was a little lady who didn’t care about the team.

Just playin’. I cared about the team.

For all you football fanatics, there is an entertaining  series running this week that’s worth a watch.
“Hell Week,” it’s called, is produced by Dick’s Sporting Goods and chronicles a team in fall camp, isolated from their families and their phones while they are pushed to the limit in preparation for fall football season. Mistakes in camp get you “midnight crew,” which equates to running sprints in the middle of the night. Similarly, thanks to coach Michael McGuire and Big Horn for the Midnight Mayhem treatment that kept me up past my bedtime last Sunday for their first practice of the season. At least the pictures were cool.

“Hell Week” is not like that MTV series “Two-a-Days” from a few years back, which was garbage. Apparently, the intricate workings of silly little two-timing high school girlfriends are at the crux of the triumphs and failures of a football team.

Remember, “Remember the Titans” when Coach Boone takes his team up into the Virginia hills and the team bonds during night runs and conditioning drills? This series is like that, minus the civil rights themes of the movie. It’s cool to watch for the satisfaction that comes with watching someone else suffer through something you’d never want to go through yourself. Dang, these chicken wings sure do taste good while those kids on the TV bear-walk, full pads in 90-degree heat, 50 yards across that half-dirt, half-hayfield. I think I’ll have a beer.

It’s pretty good stuff; a refreshingly real piece amid the sordid reality TV of today. Players are shown in a gritty setting during their least favorite time of year.

Especially today, when all we hear about is the safety issues surrounding the game, the close-up of no-quit football was wonderful. While it involves more burnout conditioning than the hotbed issue of hitting, it was nice to see the game still contains the old ways.

Sheridan Press Publisher Steve Woody pointed me this week to an article in the Wall Street Journal on the benefits of football, and how its presence is simply too large for the current hullabaloo surrounding the safety issue not to be eventually remedied.

It points out that football has long passed baseball as America’s pastime. Reminder: Flat billed hats are the cancer in youth baseball. There’s an easy fix for that sport.

The fanatical liberal media will tell you that football is literally killing your kids. Wrap their heads in bubble wrap and lock them in a padded room…worrymonger…worrymonger.

The article points out how Barack Obama said that he’d “think long and hard” before letting his kids play football. Oh, hush. Way to give the safe response. Stick to filling out college hoops brackets on ESPN if you’re not going to be useful.

There’s plenty of merit in the dangers of the game, and studies are coming out to support that more and more each day.

The article says that more people are treated for serious injuries each year in ATV, moped and minibike accidents, excercise and exercise equipment accidents, and on bicycles than football. It also includes the many studies that don’t bode well for the sport. The extensive risk and reward data the writer, Max Boot, goes through is interesting. Check it out. In the end it’s all, as he says, as of now inconclusive.

His point: Let’s not overreact and give up without trying to fix things. I’m taking his line and playing devil’s advocate because, liberals. Seriously though, because we all love football.

Like it or not, high school sports revolve around the gridiron. Kids live for it. Parents, well, let’s not go there. “Playing football at West Canaan may have been the opportunity of your lifetime, but I don’t want your life! You just don’t get me, dad.” — Johnathon Moxon, QB on the movie Varsity Blues.

“Hell Week” is a good reprieve from the concussion discussion and surprisingly also an encouraging argument for football. It’s a reminder of real growth in kids through unmodified hard work. That exertion happens for a reason and lends to life skills.

High school kids, hear this: the physical pain of something like “gassers” or tire-flips is way better than the real-life grind of having a day job. I hate sitting at a desk. Sometimes, on the slower, quieter days, if Terry the Office linebacker ran in and leveled me clean out of my desk chair, I wouldn’t even be mad. High-five Terry, nice hit. (Confused? YouTube it.) Now on a “career path,” I might even substitute a few months of work for a week of getting beat to pulp by ogre-like dudes wearing rancid, yellow sweat-stained jerseys inside gladiator-like gauntlet tackling circles.

Because after that week of pain, I get to call football my job for the next few months. I remember high school when sports were considered an acceptable substitute for “getting a haircut and a job.” I get to go run around outside and catch a ball instead of working? Sweet. No more typing.

It’s all relative, of course.

There’s no way I would actually go back and play football if I had that choice, but the sport’s value to those who play it should be realized and fought for.

Local teams have new concussion tests. Brutal two-a-day hitting drills are a thing of the past, behavior that has changed from even a few years ago, and full pads, brain mashing (in just helmets and shorts) practice sessions are substituted with shells and fast-paced form-tackling stations while the real hitting is saved for games. To me that would build up some real aggression for actual contests while keeping injuries down during the weeks leading up to gameday.

Despite all its adverse effects platformed by the greeny, terrible, terrible liberal media, football is fall. Taking the game too seriously happens, and not knowing when to let it go after its over becomes categorically sad, but the heightened state of the sport in a community can build productive students.

The Wall Street Journal writer Boot coolly quotes President Theodore Roosevelt as to why he reformed the early football game in 1907 to make it safer, adding leather helmets and pads instead of getting rid of the game completely. He did so because he didn’t want the country turning out “mollycoddles instead of vigorous men.”

In this case, listen to Teddy, not Barack.

Just don’t hit with your forehead, dummy. But don’t mollycoddle.

About

Brad Estes

Sheridan Press sports editor

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