The following is an opinion piece written Benjamin Rex Cross before and during the Super Bowl LIII. On top of being a regular contributor to the Beacon, he is also an assistant football coach for St. Patrick School. Any opinions expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Portland Beacon or it management.
As our nation prepares to celebrate the Super Bowl, I am struck by the historical aspects of football and wonder if American Athletics are beneficial to our nation and children.
I have coached football for over 20 years, and love the sport. American Football offers an opportunity for young men to explore their physical potential, and to utilize all the aggression and anger that they experience in a productive way. Football, gives men a way to work out their frustrations, to fight and to physically overpower another man on their way to victory. This opportunity is really not available in any other way in America, or in modern human society. That is an unfortunate and self-destructive situation that really hampers the ability of men to raise their young sons in a positive atmosphere and teach them how to be chivalric gentlemen.
Football in America seems to be enthroning very poor examples of masculinity. Men who call attention to themselves, who feed their own ego and who play the game for monetary gain or to glorify themselves seem to be completely contradictory to the lessons that sports were created to exemplify. As a father, I hope that participation in sports will allow my son to learn how to be a better man and to exercise his virtues.
The Greek philosopher Plato spelled out the Cardinal Virtues, and defines them as Prudence, Justice, Temperance and Fortitude. These virtues can help us as civilized human beings guide our children and raise them as exemplary adults. Without these virtues we fall to our own passions and become lesser beings and fail to achieve our potential as men and women.
Prudence, quite simply, is "Moral wisdom", it is the knowledge of what is good and bad. This would often be termed as a conscience of mankind, and it should be innate. Prudence, as all virtues becomes stronger when exercised, and it enables us as humans to become better people and allows us to act with greater charity towards others.
Justice, as all of the Cardinal Virtues goes hand and hand with the other virtues. Simply defined, it is "doing what is right towards others". Justice is a social virtue, which encompasses the numerous references to kindness, benevolence or goodwill towards others.
Temperance is very simply, moderation. It is not allowing ourselves to overindulge and to practice moderation in all of our pleasures. It speaks of harmony and good discipline in the soul in respect of normal pleasures and pains.
The final Cardinal Virtue according to Greek philosophers would be Fortitude. This is defined as "The state of the soul which is unmoved by fear; military confidence; knowledge of the facts of warfare; self restraint in the soul about what is fearful and terrible;. "
These virtues absolutely define why we as a society desire our young men to participate and excel in athletics, and very specifically, Football. The aggression and violence of Football give our young men an opportunity to tame our baser instincts, and to exercise the Cardinal Virtues and become better men, fathers and husbands. As I watch the Superbowl, I am left to wonder, is this sporting event a good example of these Virtues to our young men? Are we as a society utilizing Athletics to build stronger young people? To exercise their innate virtues? Or, are we merely utilizing youth sports to entertain each other and to allow our children to glorify themselves and to draw attention to themselves and their communities?