“Football doesn’t build character. It eliminates the weak ones” ~ Darrell Royal (1924-2012) American football player and college coach
How many women out there right now are, like me, currently football widows? As has been the case every year, I become one in October and stay one until February. Although I was an avid football fan during college, and attended every home game for our team, after I graduated I lost interest. Other things in life seemed to take precedence, and there is only so much time in the day, you know? And when it comes to competition, I tend to gravitate to being more of a participant than an observer anyway.
Nonetheless, I find that football is often a microcosm of life. There is a losing side, a winning side, not everyone participates but everyone still has an opinion on how the players can do better. Perhaps that is the appeal. In football we can cheer on our warrior spirit, without having any of the true dangers of being a warrior. I believe deep down inside every human being has a desire to overcome, to succeed, to compete to be the best, however not every human being has the will or the ability. Football seems to act as a sort of surrogate, giving us the chance to still feel like winners in that frustrating daily competition called life.
One of the things football is not like at all, but is often compared to, is politics. Frankly, I think those that compare these two insult the game. In football, playing a stronger team is encouraged, as it makes the players, and teams as a whole, both work harder and play better. In football, there are rules which are strictly enforced, immediate consequences in the game for making bad decisions, uncompromising penalties for poor sportsmanship, both players and coaches can get ejected for being jerks, and there is even a limit to how long they are seen to be able to play well. Not so in politics. Politicians usually run from the tough fights, break the rules without penalty, never experience any consequences for bad decisions, rarely get thrown out for bad behavior, and are not retired when they can no longer remember how to serve their constituents.
Perhaps if we had the same rules for politics as we do for football, our government would not be as messed up as it is now. Can you imagine the Democrats having to give up yardage for breaking the rules? They would never make it past the first down. Or if the Republicans continued to field players that kept allowing the other team to score? They would never make it to the Championship. The coaches of both teams would have been fired a long time ago, and the teams – not to mention the fans – would have been a lot better off for it.
In football, the referees’ job is to ensure that both sides play by the rules. The same is true in American government. Contrary to popular belief, their ultimate referees are not the courts, but the Constitution and the American people themselves. In football the refs may not be liked, but their calls are respected and honored, as both sides understand that the integrity of the game is at stake. If only our government leaders respected their referees – us and the Constitution – as much as our favorite football teams did theirs. After all, this isn’t just a game. The integrity of our nation is at stake.
I cannot believe that this football widow is going to say this, but does anyone else think that the NFL or the NCAA might be able to run our government a lot better than those currently in charge?
“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office”. ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969), 34th President of the United States