Why do we worship football?

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I love Ames High. I highly appreciate everything about the students, teachers and resources at our school. If I could choose to redo high school anywhere in the world, I would decide to go here. But that doesn’t mean I think our school is perfect. And what bothers me most about my school is our fanatical obsession with football.

Football is extremely, undeniably, dangerous. The concussion rate for high school football is by far the highest of any sport. Concussions, along with the small head injuries that football players endure, lead to serious neurological disorders

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is one such progressive degenerative disease brought about by repeated head trauma. The disease can lead to memory loss, dementia, aggression, and depression, and it’s relatively common in football compared to other sports.

When Brett Favre stated a month ago in a radio interview that he will not be returning to the NFL with the St. Louis Rams, he also revealed that he now has serious memory problems. Favre did have a very long career in the NFL, but he also is a quarterback, which is one of the most protected positions in the sport. Linebackers and other players who take a lot of hits are usually more susceptible to these sorts of diseases.

Cross-sectional studies reveal other facts about football that most people would rather not know. About 40,000 concussions are suffered yearly among high school football players. A University of Northern Carolina study has shown that pro players contract Alzheimer’s disease at a rate 37% higher than normal. That study, along with multiple others, reports that their average life expectancy has been shown to be less than sixty years.

Football is the most dangerous sport played in high school. And yet, for some reason, it is the sport that we choose to cheer for the most.

Part of the lack of attention to other sports may because people enjoy watching football more than other sports, but that is not the whole case. When was the last time we had an assembly to get people excited for a track meet, or covered the school with posters to raise awareness about tennis? There used to be a rule limiting the number of posters a club could have up over the school to seven, but this fall you could see at least as many football signs without having to walk halfway down any hallway.

This amount of advertising might be more acceptable if we didn’t go on to give winter sports much less attention than fall sports, and spring sports barely any attention at all. It seems hypocritical to me that the leadership of our school can chide us for not backing football, and then gradually support other sports less and less throughout the year.

The administration has mostly done a great job with their stated goal of “helping students prepare for life after high school”. But football doesn’t prepare students for life any more than other sports, so it shouldn’t be such a disproportionately large deal here at Ames High. An extremely impressive 93% of the student body goes on to enroll in college, so scholarship should always be the first and foremost target to aim for.

I think the best way to increase school spirit is to show equal amounts of support for everything that we do. This means showing interest in all sports as well as other non-athletic activities and events.

Don’t mistake me for someone who doesn’t care about what people do in our school. l encourage most endeavors that students of Ames High take on, and I enjoy doing so. I just think that when we solely focus on football when attempting to bolster school spirit, we sacrifice the integrity of our school.