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Football is Dangerous, According to Nebraska State Journal

Objections to high school football are seldom heard today. The popularity and widespread acceptance of the game at the secondary school level were predicted by the Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln) of October 15, 1893, in a persuasive "Argument for Foot Ball." The Journal conceded:

"The game is seriously objected to in some of the smaller places by parents and school boards, but principals and superintendents generally encourage it. The objections are these: It is a dangerous game; it takes the student's time from his books. It cultivates roughness; scholars become so intensely interested in it that they forget everything else. It is also said to be an expensive game and one the people will not support, and that it is liable to lower the moral tone of the school.

"But all these arguments can be fairly met by those who understand the game and are acquainted with its results. So far as danger is concerned, it is not half as dangerous as spectators at first take it to be. It is somewhat violent; and requires greater strength, it is true, than any other game, but unless slugging is allowed the chances for serious hurts are very few. If slugging is allowed it is the fault of the umpire. . . . .

"The time taken from the other work can not justly be urged as an objection for the practice usually requires only about the same amount of time as should be taken in exercise by students to insure health. The high schools practice every evening from 4:3- to 5:30 and play a game Saturday afternoon. It is found by investigation that the foot ball boys as a rule have high standing and indeed some principals claim that they do better work than the rest of the school."

The Journal concluded that the opportunity to play football "draws into school many a muscular boy who otherwise would never enter" and noted, "The game is not an expensive one. The suits can be made for less than $2, which will last for several years. The expenses of the games are met by a small admission fee. Instead of lowering the moral tone of the school it cultivates morality by forcing boys to give up bad habits by cultivating moral courage and moral grit."

(November 2001)



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