Tackle Football is War – Combat for Children
By Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Tackle football is war, especially when child combatants are armed with helmets. It is not only a “contact” sport, it is a “combat” sport. The game of tackle football is in essence a war between combatants, where the individual player is coached to do battle against his opponent by inflicting the maximum amount of physical punishment to the enemy player. The weapons that such combatants have to inflict such punishment are their own bodies, heads, as well as equipment including helmets and pads. In order to create the greatest likelihood for a team victory, a player is extorted to sacrifice his body and health for the team, to “give it up,”, “go all in.” Success is achieved by inflicting “punishment” on the opposing player. The degree to which there is a common knowledge about the combative nature of football is illustrated by the following:
- a. The term “sack” was first coined by Hall of Fame defensive end Deacon Jones in the 1960s, who felt that a sack devastated the offense in the same way that a city was devastated when it was sacked.
- b. Football games are said to be won in the trenches, meaning in similar ways as wars are won, by foot soldiers, battling hand to hand.
- c. Passing in football is described as an aerial attack, ala, air force in warfare.
- d. If you enter “american American football war” in a google search, as many as 28,100,000 results will show up in 0.52 seconds.
- e. According to an article in the LA Times, “Football is tough and based to a large degree on the capacity to overwhelm the other team with sheer force. Football is a tank attack, a sky-borne assault, a charge into the trenches for hand-to-hand fighting. Football is following orders and sticking to the strategy; it’s about acting as a unit and taking hits for the group. Football is generals (coaches) and captains (quarterbacks) and the enlisted guys who play on the line. Football is about destruction. Sure, you win by getting more points than the other team, but to get more points, you generally have to slam the life out of your opponents. You try to do away with their skill players — by violence. Knock out the first-string quarterback and chances are you will win.”
- f. Vince Lombardi said: “I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – —victorious.” (Emphasis added.)
- g. Duffy Daugherty, former Michigan State Football coach, said: “Football is not a contact sport. It’s a collision sport. Dancing is a good example of a contact sport.”
- h. Frank Gifford, NFL Hall of Fame player and long time broadcaster, said: “Pro football is like nuclear warfare. There are no winners, only survivors.”
- i. Bob Golic, former NFL player, said about football: “If you’re mad at your kid, you can either raise him to be a nose tackle or send him out to play on the freeway. It’s about the same.”
- j. Tim Green, former player, said: “Let’s face it, you have to have a slighty recessive gene that has a little something to do with the brain to go out on the football field and beat your head against other human beings on a daily basis.”
- k. Archie Griffin, two- time Heisman Trophy winner, said: “It is not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.”
- l. Alfred Hitchcock said of football: “There are several differences between a football game and a revolution. There are usually more casualties in a football game. The object of the game is to move a ball past the other team’s goal line. This counts as six points. No points are given for lacerations, contusions, or abrasion, but then no points are deducted, either.”
Despite the foregoing – for children – playing the game is emulating the conduct of heroes and celebrities. They have no appreciation that they are doing anything other than play. While they might grasp the concept of a scraped knee, they have no appreciation of the catastrophic lifetime risks that engaging in this combative sports involves.