High school sports

All our lives are full of contact

OCEAN VIEW High School’s girls flag football team in action against Warren High of Downey (HBUHSD photo).

Marilyn and I were having lunch at the Amarith Table restaurant the other day with former Garden Grove Journal sports columnist Don Alexander and his charming gal pal, Di, when the topic of flag football came up.

Scoffing somewhat at the idea that that gridiron spinoff was meaningfully less violent than the traditional variety, he said “I played flag football and I was hit harder in that than in tackle football.”

Don played football for the Culver City Centaurs at a massive 155 lbs. back in the day, so he knows something about being smacked around.

“Flag” is being touted as a sport less likely to result in concussions, and that’s probably true. But to call it a “non-contact sport” is like comparing the 100-meter sprint to a jog around the block. The speed is a bit different but the mechanics are the same.

All sports are contact sports, even ones in which players never touch each other.  I am hard-pressed to think of an athletic idea without opportunities for scrapes, bruises and downright injury. A lot of that comes from the fact that energetic physical exertion ends up – often – by hitting the surface of Mother Earth hard and fast.

As my old judo teacher told us, “the floor is the world’s biggest fist.”

Who among us grew up without getting a bloody nose, a scraped knee, a lump on the head or a twisted ankle? I’ve been hit by thrown bats and tennis racquets and every variety of spheroid or other moving athletic object.

I have a cracked labrum (shoulder cartilage) from hanging on to the leash of a very strong and fast dog in hot pursuit of a squirrel at the park. 

From time to time I have fallen off my bike onto my head, tumbled down a flight of stairs (one time holding on to a cookie) and tripped over a phone cord (s).

My point here – and I have one – is that life is a contact sport. All we can do is minimize the damage, and flag football will assist in that. But we can’t expect that – short of encasing ourselves in bubble wrap – we’ll stay unscarred.  That’s, well, life.

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