Why Football Matters

by Andrew Desiderio - George Washington University on January 4, 2014

OPINION

Football should be celebrated for many reasons, not the least of which because it promotes teamwork, athleticism, perseverance and dedication. It forges friendships, offers good times. It teaches us hope, and how to deal with let downs. It gives the promise of triumph over adversity. It generates patriotism and fosters camaraderie among diverse groups.

When you go to a football game, you’re surrounded by people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds – white, black, Latino, Asian and more – united for a common cause of dedication to their team.

On the flip side, when you go to college you meet people from all over the country – many of whom end up being fans of teams you grew up hating; like when I realized as a freshman at The George Washington University several months ago that I was the only Eagles fan out of all my new friends.

As the fall semester began, so did the NFL season. Before we knew it, my classmates and I all scrambled to find ways to watch our teams play – whether at the student center, on our TVs, or online. We always made time for it. We bonded. We laughed, joked and cheered. Underneath all that, we hoped.

In a way, the battle on the gridiron represents the battle all Americans face as we strive for greatness and to make our way in this world. There’s ups, there’s downs. There’s wins and losses. There’s hope for tomorrow, if not this season, then maybe the next.

Take for example the Philadelphia Eagles, my team, which I have supported all my life. The season started out in typical Eagles fashion – pretty rough. I wasn’t expecting much with a new coach who had no experience in the NFL. We went 1-3, then 3-5.

“Well, I guess it’ll just be another disappointing season,” I thought.

Then, Nick Foles took over as quarterback, LeSean McCoy broke out, and the Eagles started winning. They finished the season strong, winning 7 of their last 8 games and beating their arch-rival Dallas Cowboys to secure the #3 seed in the playoffs as NFC East division champions. McCoy won the NFL rushing title and Foles finished with the highest passer rating in the NFL.

Chip Kelly is the second coach in NFL history to win a division in his first year on an NFL staff, and is in the running for coach of the year. If I had predicted Kelly’s first season as an NFL coach would be this successful, I would’ve been called crazy.

But it happened! That’s the beauty of NFL football, and that’s the beauty of being an American. You never know what could happen. You work hard, never give up, keep fighting – and that prize awaits.

The Eagles are in the playoffs and have momentum on their side. They overcame adversity, galvanized an entire city, brought people together – even those who don’t usually pay attention to football. A diverse region becomes brothers and sisters, all for one and one for all.

That’s one reason why some efforts to “wussify” the NFL should stop. Stop shaming NFL fans, stop neutering the game.

Concussions happen, but these guys absolutely love what they do and get paid a boatload of money to do it. Injuries happen, that’s life. Ask any player if they’d rather quit. You and I both know the answer. Way back when, some football players actually died from the game. Suffice it to say, it’s much, much safer now.

In 2010, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell decided to cancel the Eagles-Vikings game because of too much snow. Are you kidding me? Goodell cited public safety concerns. To that I say, let the fans decide for themselves about their own safety! Philadelphia has a great subway system and a transportation department that is committed to ensuring safety on the roads.

Last month, the Eagles played the Lions during a snow storm – even prompting a Twitter hashtag #SnowBowl. The fans loved it, and the Eagles were able to tough it out in the snow and pull off a huge win. That’s what football is all about. The snow was a form of adversity for both teams to overcome, and an inspiration to those of us watching in the stands.

Football is a unique sport that celebrates what we are and stand for as a nation. Here’s to the playoffs and many more seasons to come.

College Fix contributor Andrew Desiderio is a student at The George Washington University.

IMAGE: Scott Fink

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