OK, I’m a little late to the party on this one. I missed Greg A. Bedard’s November Monday Morning Quarterback piece about Kents Hill School football, The Good in the Game.
Bedard devoted his 5 November MMQB column to covering Kents Hill’s small school football team, making the argument that football can still be good, and matter.
At Kents Hill football is still part of the community, rather than a somewhat connected sideshow, or, full on revenue producing machine. Kents Hill kids play football for the love of the game, and to learn from the game. Kents Hill’s twenty six player roster features kids from China, Denmark, Quebec, and an American girl among others.
“Kents Hill’s four captains are from four different countries. Each speaks a different native language. Sit and talk to them, however, and a common thread emerges: Sebastian Falck-Stigsby from Denmark … Raphael Major-Dagenais from Canada … Han Zhang from China … and Walter Washington from the U.S. … these young men all passionately describe how they couldn’t imagine being where they are in life without football. Then walk off the practice field with Lily McCutcheon, the team’s lone female, and listen to this accomplished ice hockey player explain how she couldn’t take being called for physical fouls in field hockey anymore. So she picked up a helmet this fall and became anything but a novelty on the team. ‘At first it was kind of a dare to play football,’ she says, ‘and people were like, ‘Girls can’t play football.’ And I was like, ‘Watch me.’”(MMQB)
Bedard makes the case, I think, rightly so, that, despite its violence and risk, football still has much to offer when it’s played in honest settings and coached by honest people. Kents Hill football is part of life, part of the fabric and Bedard argues that in these roles football can still contribute, in so many ways, in this kind of setting.
Huskie’s football coach, Steve Shukie still teaches social studies. Kents Hill football will never consume, or control, its participants. Players will play for fun; they will learn; they will think; they will improve; they will care for each other; they will grow. But, they will take football’s lessons, reflect, and carry their lessons into adulthood.
Football, for these players, will last a short time.
Bedard asks Kents Hill head, Patrick McInerney “Do the rewards [of football] outweigh the risks?”
“Football has had its ups and downs, but it’s always been a strong part of the history of the school, and I’m sure it will continue to be,…Football is a very complicated sport, with all kinds of schemes and strategies, more so than some of the other sports. I think there’s a lot to learn intellectually from football. In other sports, like hockey, there’s only so much you can do. In football, it’s a real education,” McInerney answers Bedard.”(MMQB)
Bedard reflects on what he sees at, and in, in Kents Hill football:
“…maybe we just need to stop putting labels on everything and just let football be what it is. Yes, it’s a violent and possibly dangerous game. But it’s also sought out by boys and girls who are looking for something they can’t get elsewhere. That something is individual in nature, but it’s found in a communal experience. Football can be good. That much I saw at Kents Hill School, in the eyes and words of the students.”(MMQB)
I’m all with Bedard. But, we still have a rule at our house; no football until the eighth grade.