But maybe we can use some of the gridiron’s greatest lessons to shed light on America’s school shooting epidemic. It’s worth a try.
Preparation: One of the cornerstones of football is preparation. Teams spend a full week preparing for game days, planning everything from the opening play to how to properly take a knee.
The devil is in the details.
Or in the case of school shootings, the devil slips through the details. The devil enters a school with an AR 15 because there is nothing to stop him. Some have argued armed teachers could be the answer. Give a coach a gun, let him shoot the devil.
I teach high school. I love my kids. I give them fists bumps when they walk in the door. I wear Hawaiian shirts on Fridays. But I couldn’t imagine performing those duties while standing guard, ready to jump into action and “shoot the bad guy,” if and when a bad guy should appear (and what if that bad guy had an assault rifle, and I had a handgun?).
A teacher’s job is to teach.
Which takes me back to preparation. On a Friday night, a good coach wouldn’t want a linebacker playing quarterback. The same is true for school security. Let’s up the number of armed officers in our schools. They are professionals, trained extensively in weaponry and emergency response. Let’s get more of those guys roaming our halls.
And while we’re at it, why not add metal detectors? A few weeks ago, a bereaved Parkland father was quoted as saying, “We go to the airport, I can’t get on the plane with a bottle of water, but we leave some animal to walk into a classroom and shoot our children.”
I get it.
After 9/11, the airlines made changes in their security procedures; instead of planes dive-bombing all of our major cities, we’ve seen very few serious issues since.
Adjustments: Peyton Manning was the king of the audible. I can still see him bent over the line of scrimmage, shouting, “Omaha, Omaha.”
It’s time for America audible.
I’m talking gun laws, people. How on earth can we keep ignoring this issue? Those kids in Parkland—the sixteen to eighteen-year-olds who saw their classmates and teachers mowed down—they’re screaming “Omaha!”
We can talk about “mental health” all we want, but if we don’t make an adjustment, don’t look at what the defense is throwing at us and try to change, then we’ll keep seeing these same horrible scenarios play out again and again.
In the Keanu Reeves football flick, The Replacements, Reeves’s character sums it up nicely: “One thing goes wrong. And then another. And another. You try to fight back, but the harder you fight, the deeper you sink. Until you can’t move, you can’t breathe, because you’re in over your head. Like quicksand.”
We all know the feeling. Every time the ticker goes red across the bottom of my television, and I see the words “school shooting,” all I can think is “quicksand.”
Sacrifice: Football (or any other extracurricular) is built upon the idea of sacrifice. Afternoons spent grinding away in a weight room while the rest of your buddies are at the lake; you do it because that is what it takes to win. You do it for the betterment of the team.
As Americans, we’re all on the same team. So if any of the changes I’m proposing upset you or make you feel as if your rights are being infringed upon, then remember football’s golden rule—sacrifice.
Recently, Dick’s Sporting Goods, one of the nation’s leading gun retailers, said it was immediately ending all sales of assault-style rifles and high capacity magazines. Edward Stark, the Dick’s CEO, said, “We’re going to take a stand and step up and tell people our view and, hopefully, bring people along into the conversation.”
Dick’s will surely face opposition to their decision, and could likely lose sponsors, not to mention profits, but what they’ve done is the perfect example of sacrifice. However, the sort of change we need is bigger than Dick’s Sporting Goods.
It will take all of us.
When the Parkland kids made the trek to Tallahassee to ask the House Speaker Richard Corcoran if he’d support a ban on assault rifles, he said “No,” explaining: “I know people who go out, and they’ll do boar hunts and use them.”
If machine-gunning wild pigs is more important than the safety of our youth, then we still have a problem. This topic hits close to home. Not just because I work in a school every day, but because in four short years, my daughter will also be sitting in a classroom.
Time is ticking.
The only way we’ll make any adjustments, the only way we’ll be prepared, is if we sacrifice our pride, our parties, and begin asking each other: What is best for our schools? Our children? Our team? If enough people are willing to candidly discuss these questions, then surely, together, we can find the answers.
This post was originally published on CourierNews.com and is republished here with permission from the author.
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