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JAD_333
19 Jan 14,, 02:51
My oldest son sent me this with the subject line '"must read".

Now here's a subject that seems to be born out the new movement against contact sports, the message being sports injuries are awful and sports that lead to them should be made safe or banned. Ergo, is it questionable ethics for a father to share his love of sports with his son. It depends. There might be a case against fathers cheering when an opposing player is injured or condoning cheating, or forcing their kids to play. Otherwise, I don't see anything unethical in it. Younger kids may be confused at first about the point of it all, but all aspects of life confuse them until they grow up a little more. They learn soon enough what sports is all about and that, if they choose to play, they'll get hurt sometimes. They learn that constant practice and teamwork gets has its own rewards.



The Questionable Ethics of Teaching My Son to Love Pro Football
Peter Beinart Jan 16 2014, 10:00 AM ET
Atlantic Magazine

Like countless other middle-aged American men, some of my happiest childhood memories involve watching professional sports with my dad. So it was an unexpected delight when my eight-year-old, previously largely indifferent to my New England Patriots obsession, showed sudden interest a few weeks ago. Last Saturday night, he proudly dug out a long-unused Patriots jersey and joined me on the couch late into the night as the Patriots dispatched the Indianapolis Colts.

It was wonderful. And it made me a little sick.

It made me sick because I could see the game through his eyes. And it wasn’t pretty. My son, unfamiliar with the NFL’s pieties, assumed that hurting the other team’s players was the goal. To his untutored eye, the violence that guilt-ridden fans like myself decry was a feature, not a bug. He didn’t cheer the injuries; he’s too sweet for that. But despite my insistence to the contrary, I suspect the message he took from the experience was: The only thing you need to know about the large man writhing in agony on the screen is whether he’s on our team.

When my dad made me a football fan, the press wasn’t filled with stories about the way repeated blows to the head erode brain tissue, causing a lifetime of confusion, depression, aggression, dementia, and memory loss. Former players didn’t attach suicide notes like the one found in 2011 in the apartment of former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson, which read, “Please, see that my brain is given to the NFL’s brain bank.” So my father can’t be blamed for fostering in me an emotional attachment to football that overrides the moral analysis I’d apply to some other activity that physically and mentally disfigures its participants.

I, on the other hand, have no such excuse.

I could, perhaps, break the chain. Whether he realizes it or not, my son likes watching football for the same reason I did: because it’s intimate time with his dad. If I didn’t let watching football become one of the things we shared, if I told him it’s something I regret, he might take to it anyway. But it would be less likely. And if he made it to adulthood without heartwarming memories of sitting alongside his old man watching other men pulverize their bodies and minds, he’d be more able to rationally decide whether professional football is something a decent society should allow.

In their book American Grace, Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell note that American Christians didn’t suddenly jettison their anti-Semitism after the Nazis gave Jew-hatred a bad name. But they grew more ashamed of it, and thus didn’t transmit it to their kids. I suspect something similar has happened in recent years when it comes to smoking cigarettes, littering brazenly, and denigrating gay people. These behaviors have declined somewhat among older Americans, but the bigger shift has come via generational replacement, because even people who still act in these ways raised children who do not.

I’m not claiming that watching football is as bad as all those other activities. But it’s bad enough, especially when you remember that the people you’re watching brutalize themselves didn’t randomly choose to do so. They were steered toward the NFL by a society that offers poor black men few other, less violent, ways to attain wealth.

I’d like my son to one day be able to assess football dispassionately, and thus do his part to help society progress. But in helping him accurately judge the game, I’d also be inviting him to judge me. Far easier to curl up with him for this Sunday’s AFC championship game as father and son—co-conspirators.

antimony
19 Jan 14,, 03:36
My oldest son sent me this with the subject line '"must read".

Now here's a subject that seems to be born out the new movement against contact sports, the message being sports injuries are awful and sports that lead to them should be made safe or banned. Ergo, is it questionable ethics for a father to share his love of sports with his son. It depends. There might be a case against fathers cheering when an opposing player is injured or condoning cheating, or forcing their kids to play. Otherwise, I don't see anything unethical in it. Younger kids may be confused at first about the point of it all, but all aspects of life confuse them until they grow up a little more. They learn soon enough what sports is all about and that, if they choose to play, they'll get hurt sometimes. They learn that constant practice and teamwork gets has its own rewards.

It seems Daddy needs a Testosterone patch. What next, teaching that winning is bad. And he also links it to anti semitism, WTF?

bonehead
19 Jan 14,, 03:48
We have been playing and watching the sport and others for a century and only now have some information on topics such as brain injuries. What is odd is that everyone is coming down so hard on football even though the sport is being active in making the play safer. On the other hand we have boxing MMA leagues, Wrestling, etc where the point is to pummel your adversary. Football and other team contact sports have a different goal and that is what needs to be taught to the next generation.

Bigfella
19 Jan 14,, 05:41
And he also links it to anti semitism, WTF?

Bit unfair there. He simply uses that as one of a number of examples of the manner in which attitudes change over time. He didn't 'link' the two any more than he 'linked' smoking & anti-Semitism.

I'd be a little more interested in the 'poor black men' reference. This guy sounds like he is having a bout of white middle class guilt. That isn't to say there aren't some complex questions to be asked about race, class & violent sport, but this guy isn't going to get anywhere near them.

Officer of Engineers
19 Jan 14,, 07:58
One of my proudest moments. My daughter cross-checked me into the boards!

zraver
19 Jan 14,, 16:15
its dad's job to teach junior that the violence is controlled and that the real lessons are in how hard work, team work, planning and leadership as much as raw talent can take someone to the heights of their chosen career. Little league and school sports teach those things learned on the couch and make them first hand lessons.

I went off on my oldest boys middle school football coach. He would only play his favorite players. Every play, every game. It wore them out and cost us every game. More importantly, by making half the team nothing but tackling dummies during the week and bench warmers on game night he was defeating all the lessons about the value of hard work. Those kids (including my son) were suiting up, showing up and working but not getting paid for it. It had my son frustrated and about ready to give up on not just football but school. I created an email account and sent an anonymous letter to that coach. I crawled up one side of that coach and down the other without ever revealing which son on his team was mine.

Next game every boy who had been showing up and suiting up got at least a snap on the field and so went the rest of the season.

Parihaka
19 Jan 14,, 18:53
At a guess the problem is the violence and the damage that causes. We in the antipodes ironically tend to regard American football as a soft game because of the padding and frequent stops.
Ironic because the hits taken in football would get the players automatic suspension and bans in rugby or league. Tackling without hands, head high hits and up-ending (spear tackling) are automatic send offs but in football seem to be the desired outcome. Not that rugby and league don't have their damage, leg tendons and ligaments being the obvious but head injuries seem to be far lesser.
Combine this violence with the fact children play a game that is designed for adult male bodies and major physical problems occur. I'm very lucky that my parents offered me skiing and tramping and mountaineering rather than rugby as activities, most of my contemparies who played rugby or league are physical wrecks compared to me. Permanent knee, shoulder and neck injuries accompanied with arthritis has them hobbling worse than my mid eighties parents.
Even then, while the crowd bayed for blood while I was a kid and still does, the whole ethos of the game was to run past the opposition rather than in to them, whereas football seems the opposite. I'm in awe that people play it, but it's something I'd never encourage my son to play. He's toughening up under my gentle tutelage but I'd never encourage him in something like football or even rugby, I want to watch him fly, not smash.

As an aside, since the big influxes of pacific island kids over the last 30-40 years child rugby teams in New Zealand are now graded by size as well as age. Nothing more pathetic than skinny white teens being smashed by age equivalent Polynesians who are half as big again. 'It toughens em up' said the blokes, but the hospital statistics said otherwise.

Tamara
19 Jan 14,, 19:03
Well, either A or B.

Personally, I watch football to see pressure on the quarterback. This little guy trying to figure out what to do with the ball before these freight trains come in to clobber him.

But as such, I can get that watching any game, any league, any team.

But as with most things that boys watch that I watch, I suspect we are seeing different things.

So if you aren't watching, encouraging your sons about watching someone being sacked..............then you should ask yourself, this team or that, what are you telling them to watch for?

bigross86
19 Jan 14,, 21:14
There's nothing wrong with teaching your son about football/rugby or contact sports such as MMA, boxing, etc, just as long as you teach them about the sport and not just to watch people get beat. The kid needs to be taught the technique, to learn what's behind what they see on TV, so when they see a QB being sacked by three heavy men, they know what a blitz is, the reason the defense blitzes, what the offense did wrong which led to the blitz being allowed to get through, and the QB's options once he sees the blitz coming.

You teach your kid that instead of "Look, that bastard Romo got beat down again!", and you'll do just fine.

Julie
19 Jan 14,, 21:14
35195

bigross86
19 Jan 14,, 22:13
Or a Giants fan, in my case.... :frown:

Doktor
19 Jan 14,, 22:49
OK people, close the stadiums:
Obama On NFL Concussions: 'I Would Not Let My Son Play Pro Football' (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/19/obama-nfl-concussions_n_4627866.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp000000 09)

bigross86
20 Jan 14,, 20:34
Yeah, but we know that Obama's a basketball wuss, anyway.

Julie
20 Jan 14,, 20:41
Yeah, but we know that Obama's a basketball wuss, anyway.He also doesn't have a son, so his weighing in is pretty much void. My son has loved football since he was 4 years old, he played for his High School. He is now 26. I was a single mom from the time he was 2 until he was 7, and I never discussed the "violence" aspect of football, nor did he ever ask. I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to figure it out. You can just watch it and learn.

He is still a football lover. Just yesterday we went to lunch with a few friends, and he stayed at the bar watching the football game the entire time ! Took his plate to go when we left... :biggrin: