Friday, August 10, 2012

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Take a good look at the picture directly above. Bill Siel of the Kenosha News took it and it appeared in this past Wednesday’s paper. It shows Bradford players walking to football practice past a sign commemorating last year’s WIAA Division-1 state championship team. It lists Bradford’s sixteen conference championships, as well as their nine playoff performances. The school on the north side of town is obviously quite proud of their accomplishments and deservedly so.

So, what’s wrong with this picture?

The quote in the middle of the sign – “The more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war” immediately jumped out at me when I saw the photo. I read it several times to make sure I wasn’t mistaken.

After making sure I had read it correctly, I shook my head and said, “Wow.”

The genesis of the quote is from a Chines proverb. I have seen it credited to both Sun Tzu and Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit. Whichever of the two gets the credit; it is usually associated with a war. A real war. Like World War II, Korea, Viet Nam or Afghanistan.

Not high school football.

Evidently, someone from Bradford thought differently and felt it was appropriate to use it to inspire teenage boys playing football after school.

I carefully read the article by Mike Larsen that accompanied the picture to see if the words “soldier”, “warriors” or “battle” showed up in it. They did not.

First year head coach, Jim Camerota, showed little, if any, braggadocio and was somewhat cautious in his comments. Quotes like, “We’re going to work as hard as we can and accomplish as much as we can” and “We’ve got some shorter and intermediate goals we have to accomplish playing some of the tougher teams along the way” was about as bold as Camerota got in the write-up.

Whoever is responsible for plastering that quote across that otherwise wonderful sign should be ashamed. Equating preparation for war to football practice isn’t my idea of incentive. Not only is it a poor concept for motivation, it sends the wrong message to those kids.

Even worse, it does a great injustice to the young men and women who actually serve and protect our great country. The ones in a real war.

I spoke to a good friend of mine about what he thought about this. He was even more vehement about how wrong this message was. His son played football at Bradford.

He also served in Iraq.

I have watched a football game with my friend while his son played. We laughed, joked around and cheered for his son and the Bradford team. It was a good time.

It wasn’t such a good time when his boy was over in Iraq. There was very little laughing or joking and absolutely no cheering. When I would ask how his son was doing, it was usually “Okay” or “Not bad”, followed by, “I wish they would end that fucking war.”

I never once heard my friend wish they would end one of his son’s football games.

This soldier must not have sweat enough in peace.
I have to say it again. Whoever at Bradford is responsible for that quote being on that sign should be ashamed. It’s stuff like this that evolves into NFL coaches awarding bullets to players for big hits and putting up bounties as inspiration to injure their opponents.

Maybe I have lost my mythological Neanderthal gene, because that garbage does nothing for me anymore. And I’m glad it doesn’t.

A decorated veteran of World II, a man who has my everlasting respect, once told me something I will never forget. He told me that the people who talk about war all the time never fought in one. Thanks, Dad. I get it.

Until next time…from the booth.

5 comments:

Sue said...

I must admit, looking at the board before I read your blog. I did think it a strange quote to have on the Board. What were they thinking of - in fact they were not thinking at all. Someone should immediately paint that out - obviously someone who did not read it or understand it. One for your 'ass' of the week or forever!

Paul E. Vagnoni said...

It is so obviously out of place, Sue.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely correct.

Anonymous said...

If you watched old 60 and 70 s video from nfl films they always compared football to being in a war... Nothing we haven't heard before.

Paul E. Vagnoni said...

That doesn't mean you have to use it to inspire high school kids. It doesn't make right. Maybe Bradford could pipe in the dramatic music used during NFL film and recordings of John Facenda during their practices. Perhaps they could bring in Greg Blache or Jonathan Vilma to speak the team before they play Tremper…