Packer Football: Undefeated Since 1882
Above: A Packer football jersey. Many students throughout the school would like a football team to be added to our sports program.
“A school without football is in danger of deteriorating into a medieval study hall,” said Max Kern (‘18) when asked about the lack of a football team at Packer. These words, once uttered by Hall of Fame football coach Vince Lombardi, have great meaning for him and others within our school who long for a team. Unfortunately, Max’s desire for a team is unrealistic.
Packer will never have a football team. There are too few students, even fewer who are interested in playing football, too many concerned parents, not enough fields, coaches, or opponents. It will never happen. So why am I writing this article?
As with any school that lacks a certain sport, there are always students who endlessly lobby on its behalf. Over my four short years here, the athletics program has installed two new sports teams: golf and ultimate frisbee. In both cases, a number of students were disappointed by the lack of opportunities and toiled to get permission and finally make their dreams a reality. So, one may ask, why can’t the same happen with football? To those people, I’d say: read the first paragraph of this article. But for some reason that won’t make them go away.
The strong determination to implement a team is especially true for a sport like football. In some states, high school football is as big as it gets. So, naturally, there are always kids and families who have great desires to add a football program.
Now we come back to Max, who believes football is an essential part of a high school experience due to the camaraderie and sense of community it generates. “It’s a sport that anyone can play, no matter their size or athletic ability,” said Max. While speaking about the sport itself, Max also mentioned its ability to “turn boys into men,” a provision he believes the generally soft and immature Packer community would find helpful.
What Max said is true. America’s new favorite pastime is a sport that evokes emotion and spirit like no other. But let’s be honest, we’re not living in an episode of Friday Night Lights. This is Packer — an ultra-liberal school with a plethora of helicopter parents and spoiled kids — we don’t play football. Additionally, the somewhat hyper-masculine generalization of football is very counter to the ideas the Packer community tries to promote.
Another more recent issue surrounding the game is the prominence of injuries, especially concussions. Max noted how his family once considered moving to Wyoming where he would have been able to play football, but the possibility of a head injury frightened his parents. As exemplified in Max’s case, many parents stand against football due to its effects on the brain, adding yet another deterrence to a growing list. However, Max pointed out that head injuries can be significantly mitigated with good coaching, such as the rugby style tackling techniques which teams like the Seattle Seahawks have implemented in recent years. Nevertheless, in most parents’ minds, these safer methods of tackling do not diminish the risks associated with the sport.
Additionally, according to Packer’s athletic director, Darrin Fallick, there are many logistical problems that come along with playing a sport like football. If we were to have a team, we would need a lot of players: at least a whopping 10-15 percent of Packer Upper School boys. We would need a place to store the massive amounts of pads, helmets, tackle dummies, and other equipment. While the cubbies throughout the student center are great for storing our coats, I doubt they’d be as efficient of a storage unit for shoulder pads. The most pressing matter: we would need somewhere to play. In a city lacking field space within a reasonable distance, carrying a football team would be a logistical nightmare.
Even if we were to sort out all of the aforementioned problems, a final harsh realization would settle in. Who would we play? The logical answer: schools like Poly Prep, but there’s a catch, Poly Prep is a New York football powerhouse. Last year, Poly Prep’s Isaiah Wilson was the second highest college football recruit in the nation. He’s also 6’7” and weighs 350 pounds. I wish any Packer student willing to go up against him good luck.
Having a football team at Packer would be great. It would provide a sport for our school to rally around and increase school spirit. For those who love the sport, it would be a great opportunity to play a game they love in a city which seldom affords kids that opportunity. But it just doesn’t make sense.