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.