Editor’s note: The opinion piece below was written as a piece of satire, intended to mock the many people who have complained about Maine’s new eight-man ball. We apologize for any misunderstanding that it was presented as true commentary of the very able Telstar football team. 

Look, buddy, I know you’re adamant that kids these days have everything handed to them on a silver platter. They don’t know the true meaning of commitment and sacrifice, and they sure don’t play football like they used to in our day.

Like you, I walked to school in 8 inches of snow and trudged back home from football practice in 2 feet of snow. Like you, I hurt my knee when I lowered my shoulder and drove 11 defenders, the referee and the chain gang 5 yards backwards into the end zone to win our homecoming game, 6-0, then walked home in 3 feet of snow. Like you, I regret nothing, even though my trick knee prevents me from mowing the lawn with anything I can’t sit in.

Randy Whitehouse

Can you believe we did all that and never got a trophy? These days, everyone gets a trophy.

Just look at these kids playing eight-man football now. Couldn’t stand losing so much they had to invent something that really isn’t football so they could finally win some games.

Look at Telstar, where they couldn’t win a football game for five years until eight-man became a thing. Now they’re on a three-game winning streak and, in today’s story by my colleague Adam Robinson (another one of THOSE millenials) talking about actually winning a state championship. Can you believe it?

I mean, come on, what are we doing here? Why are we encouraging kids to look forward to football practice? Remember how we hated practice so much the coach would make us do a lap for not singing the school fight song while stretching? Yeah, we earned our misery.

We’ve gotten so soft on these kids. How do they learn from failure unless they keep getting their brains beat in by teams from schools with twice as many students? We played those teams tough. We even beat them once or twice in a decade. And no one quit. Why would they? What were they going to do, go home and play ping-pong? Watch Donahue?

These kids wouldn’t be as excited about winning if they knew what it really took to win in our day. All these seniors who stuck it out for three or four years while most of their teammates gave up on football, what do they know about commitment?  What have they been taught? I’ll tell ya what they’ve been taught: that if you can’t win in life, change the rules, that’s what.

These kids don’t know anything about overcoming adversity. Imagine spending each summer wondering if enough kids were going to try out for there to even be a football team. Imagine being worried about how a handful of injuries would make them forfeit a game or a season. We knew we didn’t have to worry about that. We had 40 or 50 kids on our team. And we didn’t even need them. We knew if the guy next to us got his bell rung, all he needed was a couple of ammonia capsules slipped under his nostrils and he was good as new.

Some of these kids don’t even have to play both ways now. You and I played both ways, though, didn’t we? Heck, while the safety took a play off to unscramble his brain, I played both nose tackle and safety. These kids don’t know what it’s like to play real football like that.

Look, we both know some things have changed since we played. But kids these days just need to suck it up. They need to be willing to make some sacrifices, like having all of their games shortened by running time in the second half. We’d have killed to have running time in the second half.

Yeah, I know that doesn’t sound like fun. But you know what? We didn’t need fun, did we? We were learning about life, and that was good enough for us.


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