Many people believe that football players and athletes in general are a little slow. Often people view these athletes as all body and no brains. For years athletes have been portrayed this way by virtually every media known to man. They have faced criticism in movies, situation comedies, and music alike. I personally do not believe people can be accurately judged by categorization. For instance in "Geeks", written by Katz, artists, musicians, poets, non-conformists and computer technicians are all grouped in the same category. In the movie "The Water boy" football players are portrayed as ignorant athletic machines. However, today this view is a little out-dated. Most modern athletic programs require their participants to score well in school. In fact at many high schools, athletes must maintain high grade point averages to be eligible for competition. The dumb jock is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Although many believe most athletes to be mentally lacking, today athletes are required to be quite intelligent.
In the days of the past, it was easy for jocks to get by on their physical status alone. However, now that is an impossibility. In today's society athletes are often pushed harder academically than regular students. At the high school I attended, one cannot participate in sports without excelling in school. If an athlete has less than a c average, they are not eligible for varsity competition. Coaches often push athletes to succeed in school as well as on the field of play. In fact, the High School football team is required to attend regular study sessions after their practices. Furthermore, players are considered role models and are physically punished for not meeting a high level of academic achievement. If a teacher tells a coach at that one of his players is not meeting his potential, that player will be required to do extra running and push-ups after practice. For these reasons, most players at High School maintain a high grade point average throughout the season. Despite their lack of free time, athletes often do much better academically than non-athletic students.
Aside from the threat of physical punishment, players must also be intelligent to succeed on the field. Many people who are uneducated about the game believe football to be a game of physical competition. student said about football players "all they do is run around and it each other, how much brains does that take"? In reality it is a game of strategy, which requires high levels of thought and planning. , a former football player for and a member of the academic all-state team, said "It's sad that most people just don't understand the degree of intelligence that is required to play a sport like football". Sports today are much more involved than in the past. A football playbook, for example, often exceeds thirty pages in length, and there is a separate playbook for the offense and defense. To succeed on the field, a player must commit every bit of information in the pages of the playbook to memory. As if that were not enough, there are numerous checks and stunts that must be called at the line of scrimmage. For example, if a quarterback comes to the line and does not like the defensive formation, he will call out a color followed by a number, which signifies a new play to run. I played inside linebacker for the Noblesville football team. I was required to memorize six different defensive formations. Out of those formations, I had to know over one hundred plays that could be run with each formation. On top of that there were many different stunts that could be run with each play. Because plays were called in from the sidelines, I had to know the hand signals for every formation, play, and stunt. Once at the line of scrimmage, depending on the offensive formation, I was required to call out the offensive set, the strength of the formation, and any last minute checks. Each player must know what he is doing in every play, stunt, check, blitzes, and he must know what the players around him are going to do. If one player fails to do his job, the whole play will be a failure.
On the offensive side of the football, things get even more complicated. The offense has to memorize even more plays than the defense. Also checks can be called out by a number of players based on what they see at the line. The quarterback calls out most of the checks, but they can also be called out by any one of the five linemen. In addition, if a receiver sees an unusual coverage, he will run a different route. If the quarterback does not recognize this he could possibly throw an interception. If any player on the offense makes a mistake or does not know his duty, the play will fail. For this reason a successful football team must be composed of intelligent individuals.
Football has often been described as the ballet of bulldozers. Anyone with even a basic understanding of the game knows that this is simply not true. The game is much more dependent on good strategy and execution than on brute strength. Anyone who says otherwise just does not have enough information on the sport to make an accurate judgment. Obviously anyone required to memorize such a vast amount of information cannot in any way be slow or dumb. In fact football players are among the most intelligent people in the population of most schools. If it were any other way the game would just not work.