The natural human response to another human inflicting physical pain onto them is that of fear, anger, maybe even rage. Respect and trust is usually not associated with someone trying to knock another down or diving at someone’s heels. But something changes when eleven people work together to push themselves to the limit on the football field.
I believe that football teaches respect, trust, and determination to those who truly experience its effect.
When I was in grade school I idolized football players. I envied all the glory that came with their title. I couldn’t wait until high school so I could be a football hero like the players on TV. My freshmen year of football I didn’t know what it felt like to lose. My team went undefeated in a 9-0 season. To me, my team was untouchable, undefeatable. My overconfident attitude made it all the harder to lose our first game ever early in the sophomore year. My sophomore football coach could be described as a pusher; he not only pushed me to my physical limits but forced me to reexamine my own reasons for playing football. My coach taught us to have respect for ourselves, our teammates, and our opponents. He taught us how to handle victory and deal with loss. Most importantly he taught us to trust ourselves and our teammates on the field.
Would I have learned these lessons without playing football? I doubt I would be standing here half the man I am now without playing the game that’s taken me so far. I would not have the determination, the drive, or the heart I have today. After four years of high school football, most of my teammates and I will never play football again. Most of us will never lace up our cleats, strap on our shoulder pads, or take a hit for the team again. That sounds disheartening or depressing, but to me that sounds just about right. Though I love football, I know it must come to an end for me some day. And I believe that if you truly experience football, four years is enough to learn the lessons it can teach.
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