Hey! Play American Football!

Sean McCormick
5 min readJun 21, 2022
Image by Keith Johnston — Pixabay

Hey! Mom & Dad! AMERICAN kids need to play AMERICAN FOOTBALL! Don’t shy away from life’s lessons which can be taught through the game of football.

But…It’s Physical!

Damn, skippy! To quote my high school economics teacher, “It’s a dog-eat-dog world…Don’t get BITE-ED!” Life can be rough and tough — physically and mentally. From the initial time a player puts on the equipment, until his last time taking it off the emphasis on these two parts of life will be present.

Thank goodness, the game has taken a lot of the needless physical scenarios out of the equation. I played high school football in the 1970s, and I guess our coaches had some semblance of sanity as we were given a few water breaks during each session of two-a-days. I still run into folks who played at the same time who say their coaches would talk about ‘water being weak.’ I am also reminded of a TV sportscaster from the 70s in Pittsburgh (who played ball in the 1960s) talking about his high school coach soaking a towel in a bucket, and allowing the players to ‘suck on the towel’ instead of an actual drink. Multiple players…same towel…YUK!!!

The game has progressed to taking very practical steps to take the head out of the game. I remember blocking and tackling beginning with burying the crown of the helmet/facemask into the opponent’s chest. Now, it’s about striking with the hands. American football continues to evolve into a saftey-conscious sport.

But…it involves conditioning!

Damn skippy ‘squared!’ What’s wrong with teaching our children the benefits of becoming physically fit? There’s also something about being able to condition in a group setting. The natual competitive fires are stoked, but I should remind you there really is only one person you are competinga against — that’s yesterday you. In strength training, plyometrics, flexibility, speed and stamina football presents each person with the ability to get better on an everyday basis. Not only is muscle memory being learned by the body, it’s the overall mindset of doing the little things each day with incremental increases in training the mind to overcome obstacles.

You want your kids to be fit for life? When you put on the helmet and pads it’s a great start. Folks in their 30s & up are paying for interval training instructors! Football provides the type of interval training to provide a solid foundation for the future. There’s strength conditioning to increase bone density and mass. This can benefit the body as we age. Aerobic and anearobic exercise will create a well-rounded physical workout. Feeling the burn and good type muscle fatigue creates a positive mental state for players. It can extend to provide a solid work ethic — transferable to other parts of our lives.

But…I have to deal with discipline!

Turning the have to into the want to isn’t a simple task for any of us. Let’s take it even a step further. Turning the want to into the must do! Face it, we always are facing distractions. The distractions are much more multiplied than when many of us were younger. The internet is a wonderul tool which has made it all too easy to become distracted. How easy is it to fall into the wormhole of a YouTube search? Then, there’s Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, video games, Tik-Tok…all can be entertaining. An answer? Try playing football.

I’m not talking the Bear Bryant ‘Junction Boys’ days of tortuous practices, but I am looking at the perseverance needed by a player during modern training methods as well as the self-disciplined approach to game day. As described by Malcom McDowell there’s something to be said about the 10,000 Hour Rule. Repetition in practice leads to performance excellence.

The value of coachability, learning to listen to a coach and to translate instructions into action, are a definite positive experience. It’s also one which easily transfers into how to be successful when you’re in the real world collecting a paycheck or pursuing an entrepreneurial venture.


You know the difference between a Super Bowl Champion and a 3–win team in the NFL? You Betcha! It’s teamwork. The narcissistic ways of some prima donna players can drag a professional team down to skid row. It’s the same in the lower levels of football and for life as well. The idea of teamwork isn’t just corporate-speak. Granted, some go a bit overboard in the teambuilding realm. (I spent a dozen years in the corporate world. Every time we had a ‘teambuilding’ event, it made me think of the late Chuck Noll’s words to his first Steelers squad, “If I have to motivate you, I’ll fire you!”)

American football coaches are the ones who are tireless in promoting selflessness, comraderie and cooperation. It’s not just a whole team concept. It trickles down to position groups and the acceptance by each player of doing ‘what’s best for the team.’ A good coach corrects it when the running back complains about a missed block. A good coach corrects when a wide out refuses to block on a bubble screen and then complains about a slot not blocking on a tunnel screen. A good coach explains the roles of all 11 defenders and how a freelancing player creates a breakdown and subsequent 75-yard touchdown run by the opponent.

But…they’ll get injured!

Why is it no parent worries about a baseball player getting hit in the face with a pitch while batting, yet won’t let the son play football for fear of injury? There are more ACL tears in soccer than in football, yet Soccer Moms don’t want their 6–3 240lb slow-as-molasses-in-the-winter son to put on pads (when the kid isn’t going to see the pitch {see, I can speak soccer-ese!} unless the score is 10-nil).

It reminds me of the joke in Mrs. Doubtfire:

Mrs. Doubtfire: He was quite fond of the drink. It was the drink that killed him!

Miranda: How awful! Was he an alcoholic?

Mrs. Doubtfire: No, he was hit by a Guiness truck. So it was quite literally the drink that killed him.

What I’m saying is there are a lot of everyday dangers which are a lot worse than suiting up with the pads and helmet! Let’em Play American Football!



Sean McCormick

Turning the ‘complex’ into the ‘understandable!’ In Coaching & Leadership there is one constant — WRITING!