High School Football and Exploitation

Imagine this discussion in the locker room....
Imagine this discussion in the locker room….

Exploitation and Football in High School


Not worth it! The values and attitudes dominating the football culture devalue the health of our children. Misguided values of obedience, fear of coaches’ ire, and locker room justice create a culture that conflicts with the future health of our children. A culture that views high school boys as gladiators, playing hard, playing through pain and injury to please the team or rather the coaches. That is what MEN do, or so our boys are being led to believe.

The above beliefs and attitudes are deleterious to the future success of our boys. After my husband passed, sports were lifelines for both my sons. At that time, it was fun. Now it is not. The competitive nature and emphasis on winning exploit the developing brains of boys, whose identities and happiness are intricately tied to sports. My son works harder at sports than academics to please the coaches, and forget me. Unfortunately, many coaches do not appreciate nor reciprocate in ways that foster healthy habits or raise the academic bar; they choose instead to exploit young developing minds.

Impressionable players blindly accept the coaches’ every word, making football culture ripe for abuse. Opportunities to make positive differences are wasted by coaches whom our children idolize. Unfortunately, coaches do not value the admiration and respect given to them by our children. Their goals and intents conflict with the health of our children.

Players are humiliated publicly and repeatedly by coaches. Players not only imitate these public tantrums of their coaches, but also internalize beliefs and values that are detrimental to the health, success, and happiness of their developing brains. Clearly, academics takes a backseat to sports as well as health. Players conceal injury, and playing while injured only leads to more injury. If players do not comply with these unspoken rules, they pay a heavy price, with their dreams falling prey to the whims of coaches.

Empty promises in dark alleys are made. Developing brains are manipulated and shoved down paths fraught with injuries, risks, and few benefits. The ultimate promise and support of attending a good college evaporates or, in our case, becomes a sickening roller-coaster ride. I learned not to rely on coaches. My son is an excellent athlete who followed some bad advice, leaving him ill-prepared to gain admission to competitive schools. From where I sit, little was done to prepare a star player. Shame! Another rejection came in today from the University of Pennsylvania.

It is disappointing, yet it is also an invaluable lesson, I hope. Had my son taken his schoolwork more seriously—not listened to other players or relied on his coaches—he may have gotten into the school of his choice. High school coaches blaming college coaches is not a solution and will not get my son into college. Neither is waiting for offers after three rejections. Why put my son’s future at risk? This is worrisome. My son’s attitude is that he has no choice. Whoever gave him that impression?

In conclusion, do not depend on coaches to assist your child unless your child is the coaches’ pet. Many coaches like teachers lower the academic bar for athletes—this comes back to bite our children when applying to colleges. The culture and environment of high school football are dangerously exploitive in devaluing our children and academics, and fostering unhealthy habits that undermine their future.


Many players suck up their injuries,  playing hard with pain, mistreatment and fatigue...
Many players suck up their injuries, playing hard with pain, mistreatment and fatigue…

Author: Angela Grant

Angela Grant is a medical doctor. For 22 years, she practiced emergency medicine and internal medicine. She studied for one year at Harvard T. H Chan School Of Public Health. She writes about culture, race, and health.

17 thoughts on “High School Football and Exploitation

  1. Time for people to finally understand that competition is not healthy at all. Not in sports. Not in business. Not in life.

        1. How would you eliminate a natural instinct? Why eliminate? I say curb it by making it transparent… Then again Big Money would just manipulate, putting us back where we started.

  2. Is it any less exploitive at the college level or does the athletes’ greater maturity somehow alleviate?

    1. I don’t think it gets better. I think the coaches are my son’s problems. Funny I like LA, they have been good to my son and he to them. I don’t like to watch him being screwed over and I keep getting this nagging feeling. The animosity between them and I started earlier in the year and just got worse.

      They will make sure he only gets into the school he doesn’t want to.

    2. Carleton, the coaches have the advantage and many abuse it to bully and manipulate. My son is feeling shitty. He is disappointed but they have so lowered his expectation. None of the schools he wanted to go to is on his list. Instead he and his advisor came up with a list of unknown schools. I am extremely disappointed. I wonder if this is standard protocol.

    3. At the college level I imagine it is worse. However, I would hope at that point most players know they will not enter the NFL and put up with less abuse and BS. I thought pre-med was bad. Fortunately, it was objective based on grades and recommendations, etc; not the whim of one coach who screwed up Brown and is screwing my son’s chances of getting into college. He has given me no reassurances to the contrary.

      1. Um……..remember this one? It’s a story I once wrote on one of your BOC threads (I think).


        There was this tiny, beautiful, and lovely cancer cell. Having passed the early stages of childhood, its cancerous parents sent the little one to cancer school to be taught the facts of cancer life. It read Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species” from A to Z and back. After graduation it passionately went out into the world, joyfully participating in the survival of the fittest contest.

        One day it found an extremely healthy human, full of life and on the road to complete happiness. Cancer cell thought: “Hey, what a nice body to do some wrestling with”. And so it nestled itself comfortably in the human’s liver. And it grew, and grew, and grew some more, battling its competitors, taking over their businesses, and establishing a cancer holding. The day came that cancer cell needed to expand its routine beyond the liver world, and so it went out into the body of the human and invaded the left lung of it, ruthlessly competing with the other cells over there. Having sublime strategic management skills it prospered, and prospered, and prospered some more. It must be admitted, by this time, the revenues and profits were immense. The liver-lung merger paid off beyond the wildest expectations of the cancer board. Addicted to success, awards, greed, and never ending exploitation of other cells though, it had, in the spirit of its master, to compete some more, and more, and after that, even more. And so a cancer empire became a reality, reigning supreme over the (not so healthy anymore) human body. The struggle was over. The fittest survived. Then the body died. And so did the cancer cell and its empire.

        Btw, have a great 2014.

        1. Roald, I like your stories, the liver-lung merger. LOL I see the analogy to sports. I am afraid my son worked hard, should have gotten into a Division 1 school but now he will settle for Div 3.

          Life stinks. I hate this world and I don’t like most people. I need to stop blogging and end all contact with the outside world. The anger I feel inside is killing me…And I know come Feb I will not be happy with Lawrence Academy or anyone there. How could I be? When I know the coaches screwed my son over; the problem is he does not realize it. I am so f*king mad at that school; they undermined every damn principle I taught my son.

          They taught him to aim as low as possible and to be happy with crap. They convinced him to repeat his sophomore year when we transferred so they could get more playing time out of him. Didn’t encourage him to retake the SAT. Didn’t even come up with a freaking college list until I spoke with the counselor. They really sealed his fate for him.

          What did he get from them? Nothing that was worth him repeating sophomore year and nothing he could not achieve at a public school. I regret transferring him to Lawrence Academy. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. I can’t see the opportunity, particularly, since it looks like he will still be in f*cking New England.

        2. Roald, your story gave me an idea. I can’t change things for my son but I can change things for Lawrence Academy. I will be that cancer cell without the merger. They will feel my pain and I know exactly how to do it. 🙂

          On second thought, they are not worth it. Let the universe do its thing. My stupidity for ending up in Boston.

          I really do need to get rid of this anger. I feel like I am going to explode. Your quote comes back to me. It is a Tufts world inside too…I am much smarter than this yet I refuse to play the game almost like a stubborn kid. I curse like a sailor now where I didn’t before. It is as if I have no filter. This is either from head trauma or lack of sleep. I think the latter because I am tired yet no sleep. When I do get sleep the world is a better place.

          Roald why do you make me think so hard? You are right, I can’t keep doing the same thing and I don’t hate everyone. I am unhappy.
          I am miserable.

  3. “The anger I feel inside is killing me…” I wrote to you on that dec 22 last via private mail. Trying to get revenge or making other people’s life a bit more miserable than it already is, I can understand as I was there already more than once, but in the end, if you succeed, it will give you nothing more than revenge. If that’s the only thing you want, then by all means go for it. Remember though, being my cancer cell will kill you too. And that, my dear, was not the point I was trying to make with that story. As you damn well know!

    Btw, many years ago a cell like that invaded my body, prospered and took possession of me. This angered me a lot. So, while I was suffering from the invasion, I made a plan, set a trap, battled and killed it, including all of his family. Ruthless and without mercy. Not out of revenge, but because I couldn’t stand he and his gang were controlling my life! Reason why I’m still here and able to write my stories.

    1. I am not half as smart or wise or as mentally strong as you.

      Revenge….those coaches are taking revenge on my son. They are the ones with the problems. The high school coaches claimed college coaches are dishonest and lie, alluding to the Brown Coach. Another told me the head coach f*cked up.

      Revenge there is no one more vindictive than those coaches and teachers. They are freaking bullies and if the kids don’t obey they screw them over in a second. They have no compassion or empathy for some kids, my son is one of them. Talk about men filled with aggression and pleasure at stomping on someone.

      I am truly saddened that my son was screwed over at Lawrence Academy. They are vindictive. It really breaks my heart to see him conceal his disappointment. While I imagine the coaches are delighted with each rejection.

      I get the impression there is someone, a coach, screwing my son over. And I got that from talking to 2 of the coaches. Revenge of coaches.

      Hmmmm, The coach kept on pushing two other players. I noticed after all the games those players talking to reporters while my son was ignored.

      Did you have cancer? What type of cancer?

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