Edgar Allen Beem in his Aug. 23 column, The Universal Notebook, writes, “Time to boycott, or ban, football” and he cites CTE as the reason to do so. His focus is primarily on professional football, but the effects begin at the high school level, so the ban needs to start there.
Along with the injuries and deaths caused by football, I don’t think enough emphasis has been placed on the fact that the attributes (I don’t say “qualities” because that has a positive connotation) which contribute to success in football are the opposite of those we need in everyday life. So we constantly have incidents of violent, criminal, off-the-field behavior by – and arrests of – professional football players.
If we scrap high school football programs, what might we offer as a replacement sport? I propose shooting, for the following reasons:
Shooting is safe. When was the last time there was a serious injury at Camp Perry, or the Olympics?
Shooting builds character. When was the last time a member of the U. S. Olympic Shooting Team was arrested for a serious crime?
Shooting provides a disincentive for any type of “performance enhancing” drugs, stimulants, or steroid use. And because the sport is safe, no opioid-based medications need be prescribed (or otherwise obtained) for the participants.
Shooting is inexpensive. Once beyond the initial purchase of high-quality target rifles (which will last a long time), .22 rimfire ammunition and paper targets – all inexpensive – are all you need.
Shooting is gender-neutral. Girls can compete equally with boys, so there is no need for separate boys’ and girls’ teams.