For Kids, Golf vs. Football
By Torleif Sorenson on 11/14/13
ESPN's senior golf writer Farrell Evans has written a fascinating column about what he feels golf (as a whole) can and should do to draw kids toward the sport, away from American football.

Following on the heels of the Miami Dolphins / Richie Incognito scandal and the alarming rise of cases of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy among former football players, Evans' piece is worth a look, in part because he played football while growing up in Georgia. Among his thoughts:
My son has the choice of playing football. He has been getting into a three-point stance since he was a toddler. Yet I'm going to push him toward golf, where the career can last a lifetime and the physical risks are minimal.

But the culture around golf must change for boys like him to pursue it over football and its mammoth popularity.

Close to 70 percent of NFL players are African-American. It's only that way because these men had access to the game from the time they were little boys, and they were inspired by legions of black players who came before them.

As William C. Rhoden wrote in "Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall and Redemption of the Black Athlete," there is a conveyor belt for these young men to reach the pros from high school.

In golf there is no such apparatus, unless you grow up with access to a championship golf course with professional instruction and a support system with generous financial backing to attend the junior tournaments around the country.

Many NFL stars come from working-class, single-parent homes. How would their mothers put them on track to play on the PGA Tour?
In his article, Evans drew comments from former NFL player Eddie Payton, the director of golf at (historically black) Jackson State University in Mississippi, and author Robert Andrew Powell.

The hope is that Evans' column helps lead at least one person away from American football and "not remembering the location of his child's soccer game or contemplating suicide, as Dorsett recently admitted he had."

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[ comments ]
joe jones says:
As someone who played football for 14 years at all levels from youth to professional I must admit that I have had similar feelings as the author. I loved football but in retrospect I think my energies should have been spent in other directions. That said I feel it will be impossible to redirect players away from football and toward golf. Football has all levels of development leagues. Players are all but subsidized from high school through college to the professional level.I am a strong advocate of free golf for juniors but that is almost an impossible sell to a struggling golf industry.The author is well intentioned but I think his idea has little chance of coming to fruition.
bducharm says:
When you meet a former NFL player, and see the damage the game does to their body, I would NEVER allow my children to play football. Sorry, have to look long term here!
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