In Light of the Violence Occurring in Today's Society, Should Contact Sports Such as Football Have a Place in High School Athletic Programs?

By Mains, Christopher | JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, August 1996 | Go to article overview
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In Light of the Violence Occurring in Today's Society, Should Contact Sports Such as Football Have a Place in High School Athletic Programs?


Mains, Christopher, JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance


Questions should be raised about the educational appropriateness of a sport in which, for certain players, bulk, height and bench press power are perceived to be of critical importance. Just how worthwhile is football as an educational tool?

Very possibly other sports lend themselves to being more valuable for educating high school students. For example, what of soccer? At the 1994 International Symposium on Youth, Violence and Sport, French professor Charles Pigeassou discussed daily teenage violence in European inner cities. He presented an empirical research study which claimed that "soccer acts as an identity-building activity, or rather building a group of identities. This form of soccer, referred to as street soccer, is a place of recognition, self-actualization and interaction."

- Scott A.G.M. Crawford, professor, College of Education and Professional Studies, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, IL 61920

My football coach's motto was "Dancing is a contact sport and football is a collision sport." Because collision implies violence, the message was to hurt your opponent. Despite my participation, I didn't turn out to be a violent person. Therefore, I would question the underlying assumption that participation in violent sports leads to violent behavior.

The simplistic solution is to eliminate all opportunities for children to be violent. However, this is complicated by what we know about an adolescent's need to belong to a group and have an identity.

Participation in extracurricular activities allows students to have an outlet for their extra energies. It allows them to belong to a group with supervision and structure. High school sports allow students the chance to develop responsibility and leadership outside the classroom. Football provides this opportunity for a large number of students. If we eliminate this opportunity, where will those students have a chance to participate and be supervised?

In my opinion, the arguments for eliminating contact sports are overshadowed by the overriding fact that football and all other sports allow students to belong to a group. When students are not involved in structured and supervised activity, where do they turn?

- Dave Hinman, elementary physical education specialist, Los Lunas School District, Los Lunas, NM 87031

Poverty, job stress, alcohol and other drug abuse, teenage parents, lack of supervision, and a breakdown of the community are all causes of violence.

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