Is it football season yet??
Actually it sort of is, the seasons never really end. We go from actual game play, month away, to weight room sessions and meetings, to camps, to summer ball, to actual game play. Definitely not a complaint. Its only 4/20! and I'm wishing it was August.
But I had some thoughts/feelings that I thought I'd share. Football has taken an ass kicking recently, maybe a tad undeserving.
I'm referring to the concussion situation/scandal?/reports. Obviously, my intent here is not to copy and paste the laundry list of issues concussions create. Ok, maybe just a couple... hang on... googling...
- Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
- Temporary loss of consciousness
- Confusion or feeling as if in a fog
- Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event
- Dizziness or "seeing stars"
- Ringing in the ears
- Slurred speech
- Delayed response to questions
- Appearing dazed
Some symptoms of concussions may be immediate or delayed in onset by hours or days after injury, such as:
- Concentration and memory complaints
- Irritability and other personality changes
- Sensitivity to light and noise
- Sleep disturbances
- Psychological adjustment problems and depression
- Disorders of taste and smell
Anyone who played when I played and before, pretty solid chance you have had multiple concussions. Maybe weekly. We used our helmets and heads as weapons. I'm talking about high school now, so imagine a guy who plays pee wee, high school, college and pro. Thats a lot of contact and trauma and over the years...
My stance on it:
A) I've encouraged football players to wrestle, play rugby and learn a martial art for years. Not to toot my own horn, but I've been talking about rugby for literally 10+ years. I said "How do we get guys to stop using their heads? Take away the weapon." Weapon being the helmet. Get guys playing rugby, they learn to use their bodies. This is also why I encouraged wrestling and martial arts. Learn to use, control and master your own body.
B) And finally an NFL coach says "Teach Rugby Tackling!" and creates a great youtube video to teach football coaches how to teach it on the field. Thank you Pete Carroll.
I see guys make head to head contact and cringe. If I had sons, I don't know what I'd do.
Or do I?
Because I do coach... wouldn't it be hypocritical if I coached a sport I wouldn't want loved one to play? What would that say about how I feel about the guys I coach?
C) The juice is worth the squeeze. A lot of people may disagree with that, but its true.
Thinking waaaaaaaaay back to the mid 90's, lessons were learned out there that weren't being taught anywhere else. Trust me, I tried to find that class again, its not available. It only exists on the practice fields, in the locker rooms, weight rooms, and on Friday nights.
Coaches have the opportunity to teach life lessons in a way no teacher can. It's just not the same subject.
Can other sports do it? I dont know. Wrestling, yes. Baseball? I dont think so. I think there's something in me vs you, speed, strength, power, my body vs your body, my heart vs your heart, that's where the lessons are. Who are you after getting your ass physically kicked? Someone hits a grounder past you... eh. Is it the same? Not trying to dog baseball but I just don't see it the same. Rugby, martial arts, absolutely.
(Knowing Todd reads this... Soccer? Ehhhhh, its higher than baseball ha. Inside joke. At my old job we used to talk alot of shit and I'd rank sports and say things like "Baseball isnt a sport, its skill and hobby.")
Point is, at this age, the risk is worth the reward.
Example: You might be coaching at a school. One day a quiet, big guy comes in. Shy, maybe a loner. Super nice guy. He wants to play, he wants on the team. Another reason why football is best, there's a position for everyone. Fast, slow, small, big, clumsy, skilled, there's something here for you. But he main reason, this kid who may not have had a very memorable high school experience, just found x number of coaches who are there for him in nearly any way and x number of brothers on the team. Nearly automatically. Show up, bust your ass with your brothers and you will form a bond that you will remember and carry inside forever.
Last week, my brother and I were texting about football and such and reaching kids and how things have changed in 20-25 years. I wrote a last line, then deleted it, didn't want to get all f'n nutty heading into work, But it was about what I just wrote about the brotherhood and then the 6-15 fathers (coaching staff) who adopt you.
So why "the juice is worth the squeeze..." if I can create just 25% of the mindset and work ethic and passion and love, those coaches helped create in me, 21-23 years ago, these kids are going to have something to take with them.
Texting with a friend right now. He's basically packing up all his shit and heading down to Fla with his wife.
He writes, "Funny thing is, neither of us have a job yet, but we're going anyway."
I replied "Man, that's freaking so kick ass. Easy for me to say, but that's pretty exciting to just go down and wing it and know it'll work out."
Doesn't it always? Cant you count on one hand the number of times it DIDN'T work out? It always works out. We get ourselves into shit and go "uh oh... this might be it," and it never is. It might be "it," for a phase or a piece or some ego stuff, but we survive, we grow, we learn, we move, it works out, and we're better for it.
Everything's a big deal.
Too many people act like shits all cool and casual and it blows. Its ok to make something a big deal. It's ok to not be a bland old whatever and just blah your way through everything. Babies are big deals, weddings are big deals, promotions are big deals, turning 18 is a big deal, first ______ is a big deal, everything is a big deal.
Back to football, here's one of those lessons I refereed to above.
We were in the weight room and the guys are moving through their workload for the morning, 6am.
And this one group is on the 3rd of 4th section, performing x movement 6 times. I see this kid do it... looked pretty easy. I ask him "Was that hard?" He says eh, ish. I say "Hop back in there... as many as possible," and he gets the oh shit look. He hops back and hits it (writing it to add the freakin) he hits it twenty-freaking-three times.
Now in my head is math, and not "well shit, he did 6 the first time and twenty freakin three the second.." No, math as in "Is he afraid of pain? I dont think so. Is he lazy? No way. Is he still sleeping?"
Still sleeping? Sort of.
He doesn't know yet, how to crush himself in there. He hasn't learned yet what weight room pain can do for you. This was at 6:25. By 7:00am he learned. He became my private 1 on 1 and I took him through the zone, through the fire, thats how you learn. It was punishment. In no way did I do it to dog him out, act like big man, and show grrr this how you train like a beast. No. I did it because he needed to learn intensity.
As young people, we all do. That's the stuff I was talking about up top. Your edge. If you dont find your edge, challenge your edge, you never change. If you do the same stuff everyday, what result will you get? None, you'll never change. You may even go backwards.
Think if you never read a book, listened to a podcast or heard lecture, how would you learn new information?
If you never ran hard, how would you improve your ability to run hard?
If you never push yourself, how do you know how to push yourself?
Day in, day out, you have to challenge and grow. You have to.
When I lived in lake county, I loved hitting this hill/mudslide behind squires. I would run it so hard, I had unlimited moments of "oh my god... i might actually die this time," and lungs just huuuuuuurt so bad, legs so numb and I'd just walk and recover... then i'd slow trot and recover... then back in my jog and gone again to the bottom. I'd count for 60 seconds and do it again. I'd finish and my brain would just be flushed with clarity. Flushed with clarity.
Because I pushed to my edge, I created a new edge. And then again and again, new edge.
Thats how we change and improve. Push harder. Do more.
How about this t shirt?