Football Across The Ages

American football may be on the way to replacing baseball as the Great American Pastime due to its mass appeal. At the youngest level, peewee teams for middle school children enjoy flag football, a relatively safe but active version of the sport. Children tie brightly colored flags to their waistlines and capture these to signify tackles. However, running with the ball, throwing, punting, and strategically trying to block opponents and protect the quarterback closely simulate high school football. After middle school, football evolves to one of the earmarks of high school life. Social constructs center on the high school football teams away games, home games, and cumulate in a homecoming parade and dance where a king and queen are elected. Football is a binding element in high school but also can create social classes, dividing the athletic from the nonathletic. College football is a similar construct at the collegiate level, but with higher states. Rather than high school popularity on the line, collegiate athletes are either competing to maintain academic scholarships or to prepare for professional football careers. In fact, it is not uncommon for college football players to attend for five years to gain an advantageous extra year of playing time. Finally, professional football is the highest level of athletic competition with teams representing geographic regions and the best competitors aiming for victory in various bowl games. The Super Bowl is a yearly national interest, and fantasy football teams are as engaged with winning from the couch as the players are on the field.

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