For as long as I can remember, football has been an important part of my life. My interest in football started when I was a child just wanting to have fun with my friends. I soon progressed into a full-blown fan, fascinated by the game’s complexities and following my favorite teams. Now, football is mostly a form of entertainment and a way for me to come together with fellow fans. But I realize that these aspects are shallow and insignificant. The deeper lessons that football has taught me have been invaluably important in shaping me into the person I am today. And it’s not just me. Football has helped mold and inspire countless people across the country. It is for this reason that I believe the lessons football teach us are beneficial to society.
Football has taught me to always give my best effort in everything I do. Whether I’m working on school work or playing basketball with friends, I’ve seen that effort and hard work are the only ways to get the results I want. I took this lesson to heart while playing football in high school. It was hard work and dedication that allowed me (at a “small” 6’1” tall and 215 pounds) to become an All-CIF and All-State lineman (a position typically dominated by players weighing near 300 pounds). Sports have also shown me the importance of cooperation and teamwork and how with teamwork so much more can be accomplished and so many more people benefit. These are lessons I have learned through experience and being around football, but I believe the general nature of sports gives us all many more valuable lessons.
In tough times, sports give us something to come together and cheer for. They give us the inspirational underdog stories that show us anyone can accomplish their goals with hard work and determination. I attended a young, seven year old high school in rural northern San Diego County. During my junior and senior years of high school, the football team won the CIF championship twice in divisions dominated by perennial football powerhouse schools. School was cancelled and businesses were shut down in town for each of the championship games so all of the residents could attend. The success of the football team brought this small community together and gave them something to look forward to every fall.
This small town that I am from is rural and somewhat poor. We have a large Native American population, along with several notoriously dangerous Indian Reservations. I’ve seen several of my friends get involved with gangs or drugs and I’ve seen their lives spiral downward. But I’ve also seen many who I was sure would go down this path stay clean, and I believe football was a significant reason. In addition to being surrounded by the themes of hard work and cooperation, simply being associated with a team gave many at-risk students a reason to come to school, avoid dangerous situations, and work to better themselves.
Now I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to become die-hard sports fans, or join every pick-up flag football game in their neighborhood. I certainly encourage being active and participating in sports, but I realize that this sport is not for everyone. But I do hope people might see the lessons of cooperation, hard work, and self-improvement that football can teach. These are the underlying sources of the good that this game can do for so many.