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Scary reality of sport
Johnnie Phillips, Sports Editor
Johnnie Phillips, editor, sports, Steele County Times

For those who have ever watched their children play football, witnessed a game on the TV or even strapped up a helmet themselves, you know in the back of your head the dangers that come with the sport.

In America, the return of football season is always met with pandemonium and relentless excitement from its fans, but along with the adrenaline rush of the game comes its most sinister reality: the possibility of severe injury.

After traveling to Lester Prairie for Blooming Prairie’s game against the Bulldogs, I had to reflect on the sport of football and what it means to us as a culture after witnessing Blooming Prairie wide receiver Jacob Pauly be taken away in an ambulance after an apparent head injury.

In moments like that, it makes you stop and think about how a game that is so loved and enjoyed by fans nationwide can have such grizzly consequences for the ones brave enough to step onto the field.

As a former player who has dealt with football-related injuries, I can attest to the violence of the sport, but when I question what it was that made me fall in love with the game, I find one common answer: I loved going to battle with my teammates.

Through all of the bumps, bruises and breaks, there was nothing that could convince me to not step onto that field if I felt I was able to compete -with “able to compete” being the key words here.

The difficult part about viewing the game of football from an outsider’s perspective is that it is easy to assume the general well-being of an individual supersedes that of the team.

My old high school football coach used to breed mental toughness with a quote, “Are you hurt or injured?”

From what I’ve always understood about his words, there is a fine line between the two.

If you are hurt, you can still play, because in reality, everyone on that field is hurting.

However, if you are injured, you have to step away from the game in order to protect yourself and allow your team to succeed at full health.

Football is a game that requires all 11 athletes on the field to work together in perfect unison in order to be a dominant force and win games.

Let me tell you, to this day I don’t know if there is any feeling I’ve enjoyed more than winning football games with my friends and talking about the game up until kickoff the next Friday or Saturday.

Football is a unique game because it takes a sacrifice that not many people are willing to make.

You know when you step onto that field that you are going to get banged up; you have to accept it.

What keeps you going back to the game is your team.

There’s a bond that forms amongst young athletes between those sidelines and hashmarks.

That bond is strong enough for athletes to put it all on the line for their teammates, their school pride and their town.

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