Little wonder our children so often grow up believing that violence is acceptable, even admirable, and that anything goes when it comes to achieving success. Yet when children go into competitive events, such as football, there are rules they are supposed to accept and live up to, such as eschewing fighting just for fighting’s sake.
That’s why an article in a recent issue of Sports Illustrated is so disgusting. The vast majority of good football coaches call for effort and the fiercest contact, but within the rules. Such individuals are to be congratulated for their effort to civilize a brutal game just as one of their colleagues deserves a rap on the head for his questionable outlook.
Rex Ryan, the New York Jets football coach, advocates fighting among his athletes, be it man on man or defensive vs. offensive units. Not just contact within the rules, mind you, but out-and-out brawling of the back alley nature. The more “his guys” go at it, the better he thinks the team attitude for success emerges. Most good coaches find that appalling. Is Ryan dealing with pit bulls or thinking human beings?
Take training-camp fights that always happen when tempers flare and fatigue and pain take over. Hall of fame coach Tony Dungy told his team that such thuggery would get them a ticket out of town. Tom Coughlin is a Super Bowl champion coach who allows for “chippiness” but believes fighting creates only hard feelings that carry over into the season in costly fashion. Coughlin refuses to accept such behavior.
Any coach at any level of football who encourages athletes to engage in gladiator barbarism, “to toughen them up,” is unlikely to win as many games or have as much respect as the tutors who steer away from such behavior.
It will be interesting to see how the Rex Ryan penchant for in-squad fighting pays off when the regular season begins. Most who know much about football and its status believe his philosophy is horribly flawed and self-defeating.