Neil Tambe

Husband, Father, Citizen, Professional.

I'm a Detroiter who happens to enjoy writing, national parks, orange juice, the performing arts, and fanciful socks. More than anything though, I aspire to be a good husband, father, and citizen.

I want to quit football, but I can't

I haven't heard many people express tension about football (aside from their respective team underperforming) but I don't think that I'm the only one that feels it. Between the media buzz at Michigan, domestic violence, and concussions, though, it helps bring to light what I think many are feeling - we want to quite football, but we just can't. I WANT TO QUIT FOOTBALL

The problem I have with football is that it's not consistent with my values. It's violent. It tends to be excessively masculine and at times, homophobic. It's also laden with horrific injuries and physical consequences for players - whether it be professionals or pee-wees.

I don't care for violence, and I don't think that excessively masculine environments are comfortable. In fact, I'd argue that excessively masculine environments are not just uncomfortable, they're dangerous. They give young males a very skewed view of what being a man is supposed to be: brute, aggressive, and tough - leaving little room for empathy, intellect, and admitting weakness.

These issues with football and football culture are no longer merely perceived, they are real. There are real cases of homophobia (although some would allege that the case of Michael Sam doesn't indicate homophobia), and the effects of concussions. There are very real cases of domestic violence in the NFL - whether it's Ray Rice or Adrian Petersen.

Just this weekend it was released that a football player at OSU with recent concussions may have committed suicide. To be sure, correlation isn't causation, but there's a creeping number of cases like this one and in the long-run new research being conducted on football-induced brain trauma may indicate that these cases are not merely correlation.

In addition to serious, life-threatening issues there's also a litany of daily annoyances caused by football. On the more substantial end, the NCAA is often accused of being corrupt and college football has a host of issues unto itself. On the less substantial end, I'd contend that after the first 5 minutes, most conversations about football are horribly boring and uninspired (this is something I noticed once I stopped watching football regularly).

Whether it's because of deep moral misgivings or minor frustrations, there are plenty of reasons to want to give up football.

BUT I CAN'T

I want to give up football, but I haven't been able to yet because of its redeeming qualities. Every time I try to give up football, I remember that it's part of who I am and part of who we are as a country.

We have many football traditions in high-school, college, and beyond - nostalgic times that seem almost synonymous with growing up in midwestern America. And despite the overly masculine environment football creates, I learned great lessons as a football player - I played from 8th grade until 10th grade - about persistence, handwork, and teamwork.

There are also wonderful stories about upstanding football players that use their celebrity status to be role models for others. There are also stories of football being a way for kids going to college that wouldn't have had the chance otherwise. I know that nothing makes domestic violence okay, but some of these heartwarming stories make it easier to forget the horrible stories tying football to violence.

For me, football has been a rite of passage. It's an excuse to chat with my buddies about a common experience and the fantasy football league I'm in is a way to keep in touch with old friends. I distinctly remember the times I've been in the Big House for games and I remember when Michigan won the National Championship in 1997. I remember football practices and super bowl parties. Homecoming games and the Rose Bowl Parade. Now, those memories include Robyn (my girlfriend), Robyn's family, my family, and many other friends - both male and female.

The idea of football is so difficult for me. On some level, I hate football and what it stands for. But in another way, I love it.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

  • Would you quit football?
  • Is it okay to be a patron for something that you don't agree with entirely?