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For the welfare of our children and the welfare of The Great Game, kids should not play tackle football until the seventh grade.

There, I said it.  I, Paul Alexander, Johnny Footballseed, just went on record opposing peewee football.

There’s no rush. Stick a football in their hands the instant they climb out of the crib and let them play with it.  I said play with it. I said have fun with it. Fall in love with it. Dream about it. Smile. Laugh. Get them to immediately associate that football with good times!

I cringe every time I see a field full of fully-padded eight-year-olds practicing in the heat. Because I know that for many of them, their joy is being sucked out of their souls even as oxygen is sucked out of their lungs. They will come to hate football. And something that could have been a beautiful experience for them turns into fear and loathing.

That’s not good for children. And that’s really not good for football.

Look, I understand the argument that they’re really not able to hurt each other. Little kids. Little collisions. And that’s largely true. Until it isn’t.

But beyond that, tackle football is uncomfortable. It’s hot. It’s tedious. Helmets and pads are heavy. Running into other people is not a natural act. Even well-meaning, qualified youth coaches can be overbearing and frightening. Then there are those coaches who are neither well-meaning nor qualified.

I’ve seen it literally hundreds of times as a player and as a high school football coach. Burnout. Just as they reach an age at which football could have become a deeply wonderful and spiritual experience, many young men are just done with it.

That’s not good for them.  And it’s really not good for football.

So, no football before age twelve?  No.  That’s not what I’m saying.  Touch. Flag. Fun skills contests. No pressure technique development.  Throw it. Catch it. Kick it. PLAY with it!

And more than anything else, fun.  Unrelenting, incessant fun.

There is a point at which boys (and girls) can begin to handle the physical, mental and emotional demands of tackle football. Football is not always “fun” at that point.

Generally, that point is the seventh grade.

That’s better for them.  And I will promise you it’s better for football.

One Response

  1. I was doing sideline reporting for Texas State football a few years ago. Halftime entertainment was peewee tackle football. As the kids approach the end of the tunnel to run onto the field you can hear their amazement at the size of the crowd, “whoaaaaaaaaa” followed by sad remarks from their coach, “hey, none of that! Act like you’ve been hear before!” They’re 8 years old, they haven’t been there before…

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Paul's Bio

I clearly have the attention span of your median fruit fly.Look! Airplane!

Sorry. I’m back.

It’s both a curse and a blessing. I’ve never bought this stuff about, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” But I do think that a wide range of life experiences helps us grow as people, and helps us better relate to other people. I’ve been fortunate. And I am beyond grateful.

I show up on time. I go like hell. I’m a good listener. I hold myself accountable. I own my mistakes. And I have a natural and an insatiable curiosity. I’m never afraid to say, “I don’t know,” when I don’t. But then I try to find out.

The flip side is I’m a lousy ballroom dancer and my clothes sometimes fit me funny.

Stuff matters to me. I care. But while I take that stuff seriously, I try hard to never take myself seriously. As a result, I have sometimes been told, “Paul, it’s hard to tell when you’re serious and when you’re just having some fun. Which is it? Serious or fun?”

My answer is “yes.” But I think that is a legitimate criticism. I promise I’m going to work on that.

This has been the quickest and strangest half-century I’ve ever experienced. During that period, I’ve been afforded amazing opportunities in news and sports journalism across all platforms. I have taught wonderful students at the high school and collegiate level. Always, I learned more from them than they did from me. I’ve been a high school administrator. I spent ten seasons as a high school varsity football coach. I’ve been an advertising executive. I’ve hosted nationally syndicated television entertainment shows. In maybe the biggest honor I ever received, I was selected by NASA to be “Chet The Astronaut” for the “Land The Shuttle” simulator at Space Center Houston. (All I can say there, is “Do as I say, not as I do.” I put that thing in the Everglades more often than not.) Most recently, I just wrapped up a decade as a television news director, during which time our teams distinguished themselves in holding the powerful accountable, achieving both critical and ratings success.

What does all that mean? It means I am profoundly grateful. It also means I’m ready for “next.” So here we are. Radically Rational. It’s an idea I woke up with in 2017. I scribbled “Radically Rational” on a piece of notebook paper and used a magnet to stick it on our refrigerator. I saw it every day, and it just would not leave me alone.

I am second in charge at Radically Rational, LLC. My wife, Jo (also known as BB), is the president. Clearly, I have failed in my attempt to sleep my way to the top of this organization.

I hope you will learn that I’m loyal as a Labrador. But I will admit that this doggie can bite every now and then. My promise to you? I will show up on time. I will go like hell. I will listen to you earnestly and attentively. I will hold myself accountable. I will never be the least bit hesitant to say, “I don’t know,” when I don’t.

But then I’ll try to find out. Let’s do it.