Philadelphia Eagles: Zach Ertz on what canceling youth football might mean

Zach Ertz (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Zach Ertz (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Philadelphia Eagles star Zach Ertz wants you to know youth football is needed.

Right now, if you’re a sports fan, things just feel a little different when you wake up in the morning. Philadelphia Eagles football is on the way in September. Major League Baseball is back, and even if you’re a purist that’s trying to get used to a seven-inning game (you know how baseball fans are stuck in ‘tradition’), that’s another reason to smile.

Then, there’s the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, and their respective ‘bubbles”. Things seem to be going along without a hitch, and we haven’t heard about a positive test in weeks.

Football’s a little different. The NFL’s 32 franchises apparently are looking to travel normally which would increase the chances of infection. The guys who have opted out have made their decision. Everyone’s talking about how safe they feel and what camp looks like, but Zach Ertz has something else on his mind.

Always the proponent for making positive steps in the community, ’86’ sat down with several members of the Philadelphia media recently, and he made a point t let everyone know that he’s also interested in what life with no football means for our youth. Take a look.

"I want kids to be healthy, first and foremost… That’s the primary goal. But I remember being 15 years old with my parents separated. I was the oldest of four boys. I was so frustrated. The only thing that I knew how to do, the only way I could express myself, was playing football. All I did was lift weights, play football, play basketball. And that allowed me to release my internal stress and pressure that had built up inside of me because of what was going on."

“It’s just a game”. How many of you have heard or have said that? If you think football is ‘just a game’, take a trip down south, where the game is, borderline, a secular religion and services are held on Friday nights, Saturdays, and, of course, on Sunday and Monday. Here’s more from Mr. Ertz.

"Obviously, football costs money, so if they were to disband football, where does that money go? I would love to see it invested in these kids to make sure that they’re okay and taken care of and not on the streets from three to seven. I was fortunate enough to have football. I was not out on the streets from three to seven. I had organization after school, with football and basketball. I couldn’t imagine the path I would’ve gone down if I didn’t have football to express myself."

See, if you’re one of those people who think ‘football is just a game’, you’ve missed the point. Eagles fans’ fathers and grandfathers were Eagles fans. The team is like a relative, so much so that they belong in those pictures your grandmother has on the living room wall.

There’s another set of people who saw football as their escape. In small towns where there may not be much to do, football kept many of us from going crazy. It isn’t about whether or not that’s someone’s only way out of insanity (but sometimes it’s that too). Participating in football was the first time many young people and many adults did something that they were proud of.

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It gave them self-confidence. It gave them hope. It gave them a chance to be a part of a team and learn how to deal with success and failure. If that is taken away, there’s a large group of people that will look for other ways to occupy their time, and ladies and gentlemen, some of what they will find is a much more negative alternative. Like Ertz, we should all be hopeful that youth sports of all types can go on as planned. Seeing the smiles on their faces is worth whatever investment is necessary from all of us.