Despite stereotypes and risks, students enjoy high school football

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Oakton HS football team playing against Westfield at their homecoming game.

Dhara Mudras, Writer

Eli McNutt has enjoyed watching football since he was young, and was excited to join a high school football team, but when he brought up the idea to his parents, it was shot down.

For Eli, the decision was about potential injuries, while other students have been dissuaded by stereotypes.

CJ Berejik, an eighth-grader at RCMS, said that she thinks a common stereotype placed upon football players is “dumb jock.” CJ also said that she thought most players don’t conform to these stereotypes, but there are some who do, and that can have an affect on the image as a sport.

Ethan Marcus, another eighth-grader at RCMS, said stereotypes haven’t changed anything about his behavior, and he ignores them.

“I think a lot of people get impressions of football players from TV shows and movies, because it’s an easy thing to use as a plot.”

Campbell Galhouse, who lives in Herndon and attends Franklin Middle School, said that football has been seen as a rough and mean sport.

“Not everyone that does it is out to hurt someone. It’s part of the game,” she said. “These stereotypes probably come from places like TV, and I don’t think people repeating them realize that they don’t apply to everyone.” She added that as a kid, she saw lots of stereotypes about all football players being gross and the “most popular” kids at school, which isn’t all true.

Eli McNutt, who lives in Herndon and attends Franklin Middle School, said that he thought about playing high school football but he and his parents decided to have him play in a local league instead.

“It really comes down to injuries,” he said. “My mom figured that football in high school at Chantilly would be more aggressive and physical, and she doesn’t want me to get a head injury.”

Eli also said that football can take a lot of time out of a person’s schedule, which is one of the reasons he agreed with his parents’ decisions to not let him play.

“In a perfect world, I would love to play. If I had space and less commitments, I’m sure I would be able to convince my parents to let me play if I had enough motivation. But while we’re still in a pandemic and I still have other commitments, I’m fine with what I have and using my free time to eat and watch tv.”

Eli still encouraged other kids interested in football to play.

“If you commit yourself and apply yourself, you can do almost anything. I just have too many commitments right now,” Eli said.

While there’s been plenty of bad things said about high school football, just watching has given some students good experiences.

“I go and have fun with my friends every week,” Campbell said. She also mentioned that it’s a nice experience to have to be able to go out and bond with people, including people she otherwise wouldn’t talk to.

Eli says that football in general has improved his mental state and happiness, allowing him to see friends and make new ones.

He said, “I think football isn’t as bad as people want to think. I think that a lot of kids that play football would end up with less friends if they didn’t have their sport.”