We are closing in on the end of a football season that many never thought would happen, or for that matter should happen.
The football season, quite literally, was punted around by politics, science, desires, greed and even more worrisome for me, it now seems pure inner guts are coming into question.
In the 1800’s when college football started to explode in the United States, the game was questioned as being too barbaric, even too deadly. The deaths attributed to the brutal game at the time led to many wanting it to be shut down for good.
However, Teddy Roosevelt, came to the front to say that America was turning into a soft society where the men in the country were getting things handed to them and becoming spoiled and “soft of spine.” Roosevelt felt that with certain safeguards and rules the game would turn into a learning tool for the nation’s young men and that the resolve they would learn could turn them into leaders the country would be proud of. The struggle of the game was part of being a mature person.
Imagine now the resolve that American has shown over the last century with several world wars and military conflicts where we as Americans have pulled together to overcome many obstacles. Also imagine now in a society where our politicians promise free money, free benefits, oh, by the way, you don’t have to put out much effort to get those things.
News came across this week that many college players were “opting out,” for the rest of the season because they had nothing to play for. Also, many teams and their parents now want their sons to “opt out,” so as not to risk their health with the Covid virus still amongst our populace.
First things first, they aren’t “opting out.” They are quitting. And their parents and anyone telling them it’s ok now to quit because they aren’t on a winning team or don’t have a chance at a national playoff are quiters too. Too harsh? The Big 10 seems to be in the midst of this, and just so you don’t think I’m playing favorites, there is also word that many Vanderbilt players are pulling together to do the same thing. Many other SEC players have pulled the same stunt over the last few weeks as it seems their teams aren’t going to be a big part of any playoff or championship runs. The ACC has almost guaranteed Notre Dame and Clemson a route to the title game so as to give them an opportunity to make the playoffs without playing an already scheduled game.
Players had the opportunity to “opt out,” of the season at the beginning and still retain their eligibility and maintain their scholarships. Instead, they chose to play until things got “too tough.” Teddy wouldn’t have been very proud, and the truth is we can’t as Americans be too proud of some of the things our younger folks are believing or thinking they are “owed” something. One of the beliefs that Roosevelt had about the game of football was that the “team effort,” was all part of building a strong nation.
As we move closer and closer to a vaccine for our health issues, it has become apparently clear we also must address many other things besides the obvious ones that are presented to us in daily doses.
My belief is we need to encourage and support efforts and not reward complacency. I also believe that any of the players who are “quitting” their teams at this point and time are also in for a rude awakening when the NFL doesn’t come knocking.
If you see me say, “Hey!”
Dee McLelland is Publisher of the Coastal Courier and the Bryan County News.