The football season is going strong and the news has been full of the dangers of football; with the NFL lawsuit settlement, concussions and the long-term effects of head injuries in professional football. The Weather Channel has reported five deaths in this year’s high school football season. The National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research at the University of North Carolina reports 25 deaths of high school football players in the last 10 years. Better outlaw football! It’s destroying America!
I myself have never been eager for my boys to play football, though we encourage our kids to participate in sports. We have always encouraged our kids to go outside and play in the sun, to swim in the pond, to ride their bikes hard and fast, to get back up when they fall down, to brush the dirt off the bloody knee and keep going. We have never babied our children. Actually we have actively encouraged our kids to be risk takers… in a responsible manner.
But, when they come inside we kiss the boo boo, we wash off the bloody knee and put Neosporin and a band aid on it, and we make sure someone responsible is with the young kids when they swim in the pond. Balance is what is needed. We as parents appreciate what is to be gained by taking certain risks, but we also want to teach responsible decision making – not to be stupid. We try to teach balance. Some call it wisdom.
I believe that we need to change the conversation in America from “tolerance” to “balance.” I feel like we need to tell the government, the media, and many in our society to “toughen up!” American society is suffering from “crybaby syndrome.” As I often tell my kids, “Life isn’t fair!”
Where has personal responsibility gone? Sure you can get hurt playing football and other sports. But, you can gain many things also. You can develop a competitive instinct and a desire to achieve. You can learn persistence - how to stick with it to accomplish a goal, even though it hurts. You can get skin cancer by being in the sun, but you can get vitamin D also. You can drown swimming in a pond, but you can learn how to swim well so that you won’t drown and perhaps learn how to save someone else from drowning. If you never take a chance and always sit inside in a protected and safe environment, is that healthy?
Dr. Robert Lustig has written a book called Fat Chance where he espouses that idea that sugar is the next dangerous, addictive substance that we need to be protected from. He considers America’s addiction to sugar and America’s increasing obesity to be more than an individual failing, to be a public health crisis, in the vein of tobacco, TB, AIDS, and teenage pregnancy (probably alcohol should be included in this list). Maybe his science is correct, but his tactics are questionable. He says that expecting people to take “personal responsibility” is never going to work. He also despairs that legislative action will ever solve the problem. Accordingly he is now studying law so that he can find a judicial solution to this public health crisis. Lustig intends, I suppose, to take Coca-Cola to court for enticing us to drink Coke.
Page 2 of 2 - Do we want a government that promises a world without risk? Do we want a government that is powerful enough to promise to care for our health, our retirement, our life, and our death? Can government truly deliver such a thing? A teen that drives a car for an hour has about a one in a million chance of dying – compared to a one in six million chance for a teen that spends an hour practicing football. Americans want to make their own decisions about whether to drive or play football. Life is dangerous, but many of the dangerous things in life are also good for us.
In trying to protect us from risk, government is intruding in our lives more all the time and taking away our liberties. We don’t need government to be our mama. We want to grow up to be personally responsible adults who can make our own decisions and live with the consequences of those decisions.