Why is Football Big in Texas?
One Texas Resident’s Perspective

“Tackle him. Tackle HIM! TACKLE HIM!! Run it again!”
The sounds on playfields throughout Texas in late summer and fall as football coaches yell and scream at little boys. Tackle football as in full contact tackle football, it hurts football, not soccer. Soccer is a good, fun and safe sport for boys and girls. Girls can compete with boys in soccer. Anti-football proponents love it. This is because soccer is an upper body passive sport. Boys don’t develop nor require upper body muscles in soccer. Soccer is an invasive species not in the tradition of North American sports which require upper body muscle strength and coordination such as baseball, basketball, hockey and football.

I moved to Texas a few years ago from Michigan. Everybody told us about how big football is in Texas yet not one could explain why. As I sat on the sidelines watching my sons practice and play football, I began to make some observations and I would like to share a few of those. I also reached a some unique conclusions as to why football is so big in Texas. I realized the cruelest form of torture for an anti-football proponent would to be to force them to watch youth football in Texas seeing little boys grow into tough masculine young men.

Anthropologists believe the rituals of a society affirm and reinforce the values of that society. Football is a ritual which reflects Texan culture and American values. Football is big in Texas because Texans believe football reflects the values of competition, risk and winning. The pioneer, cowboy and wildcatter spirit is alive and well in Texas. Texans believe these are good things. There is fierce and sometimes insane competition to win in Texas football culture. Football culture competition extends beyond the game as school bands and cheerleading in Texas is fiercely competitive. This competitive spirit is reflected in the business climate. There are few unions in Texas because it limits competition in the job market. Is it any wonder Texas at one point produced over half of the new jobs in the perpetual recession compared to the other forty-nine states? There is so much construction and economic expansion in Texas I was amazed to see heavy construction television commercial spots selling backhoes and bulldozers during the recent bowl games.

Texas youth football is a cultural shock for many little boys, even those in Texas. Most boys today have been taught by women teachers in day care and public schools. Most boys only know women teachers and are surprised men can teach. Some women teachers discourage fierce competition preferring a nurturing, gentle, everybody wins, avoid risk, we’re all the same attitude. Little boys quickly learn football is competitive zero sum game and the other boy across the line is in no mood to be nurturing. Your job is to be mean and tough to beat the other guy. It’s not personal, it’s just a competitive game.

To the horror of anti-football proponents, there are no support groups for boys who fumble the football. There is physical risk in playing tackle football. Anti-football proponents hate risk and football because it reeks of masculinity. They will eventually destroy football on the coasts applying the safety card. The safety card is an easy sell to an ever increasing liberal population. Millennium parents have passively accepted restrictions forbidding playing on terrifying monkey bars, horrific games of tag, dangerous football and unfair dodge ball in the interest of safety. Some leaders will make decisions on risk, not parents or individuals. They will enforce their decisions through governmental regulations and it’s evil twin, liability ligation. Expect many schools to be defendants in future lawsuits regarding any football injury however minor. They will drive insurance rates up trying to make the cost of a football program financially prohibitive for schools and private leagues.

Years ago I was watching a game between the University of Michigan and Western Michigan when a thunderstorm broke out. Officials at the University Michigan cancelled the game. There was identical weather at South Bend, but Notre Dame and South Florida finished their game. For 132 years, Michigan never cancelled a football game until 2011. The fans sitting in the Big House are some of the most intelligent people in the world who could have made their own decision to endure the weather conditions. Using the safety argument, leaders cancelled the game rationalizing they could be sued if someone were injured by lighting. Safety first. Besides, men have such silly football traditions such as playing in the rain and mud. (Bo Schembechler must be spinning in his grave.)

Football is big in Texas because Texans believe in developing character and masculinity in boys. The future for boys is an important value in Texans. Texans want to leave a better world for their sons and grandsons. Unlike most states, Texans form many private leagues and the public schools offer young boys the opportunity to play tackle football beginning in junior high school. In the other states, most public schools only offer football programs at the high school level. As a result, Texas boys have greater opportunities to play tackle football compared to other states. Boys in Texas are immersed in football culture, in their schools, their families and on television. In other states, families gather at weddings and funerals. In Texas, families gather at football games.

When I moved here from the North, I couldn’t believe junior high schools were playing under the lights during school nights. Nor could I believe the large number of private grade school youth football leagues. Many boys in Texas begin playing organized football in kindergarten. On my son’s fourth grade team, out of thirty players, only one may eventually make it to a high school football team, if’s he lucky because of the intense competition.

Football is a rough sport and there is always the risk of injury. The risk of injury is less so at the youth level compared to professional football. There is risk so what is the benefit? At the youth level it is the development of masculine character that can last a lifetime. It was a bonding experience for fathers and sons, and may have been their most important exposure to masculine values. Even one season of tackle football for a ten year old can make a difference in their life.

When I saw boys putting on pads for the first time they were afraid and extremely reluctant to block or tackle anyone. Again it’s culture shock. Little boys today have been taught all their young lives to sit still, be quiet, be passive and docile. Don’t take a risk, you might get hurt.

Author Unknown
The-Spearhead Magazine