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Columns : Guest Editorial

There's No Such Thing as a Football Hero

Athletes perform amazing feats of daring but no one shoots at them on the field.

February 01, 2010  |  by Ed Nowicki

Contrary to what the TV sportscasters say, there are no football heroes. This isn't a revelation, since there never were any. I know, since I watched most of the televised college bowl games this past holiday season.

I watched Badgers, Cowboys, Bulldogs, Scarlet Knights and Golden Knights, Mountaineers, Bears, Volunteers, Spartans, Ducks, Beavers, Owls, Wildcats, Cougars, and on and on. I even saw some Horned Frogs and Vandals. Not a hero among them, football or otherwise.

I listened as the talking head commentators spoke about the leadership abilities and sacrifices of the players and how some are heroes. Don't get the wrong idea; I love watching college football and the bowl games. And the players are gifted athletes that may eventually earn millions of dollars a year, if they have what it takes to make it in the NFL. I'm amazed at some of their physical abilities. But heroes? I don't think so!

In 2012 a new home for the "College Football Hall of Fame" will open in Atlanta. At a cost of $50 million, the College Football Hall will move from South Bend, Ind., to a new state-of-the-art (whatever that means?) 50,000-square-foot building. Not a bad testament to the players who, red-shirt freshmen aside, spend a maximum of four years getting an education through scholarships. Good for them. God bless them.

But contrast that museum with the National Law Enforcement Museum, which is planned to open in 2013. The LE museum was scaled back from an original four-level 100,000-square-foot facility to three levels and 55,000 square feet because the organizers could not raise enough money to realize their vision. The cost is now about $80 million and less than half of that has been raised. Somehow law enforcement is always asked to make more with less and, somehow, we usually make do.

Still, the priorities of the American people are clearly out of order. Thousands of officers have died in the line of duty, and hundreds of thousands of men and women continue to serve and protect. They are heroes who put their lives on the line 24/7.

Raising money for a College Football Hall of Fame is no problem. But try to get a National Law Enforcement Museum built, and severe cost cutting is implemented. Raising money is still a big issue and I wouldn't put any bet on that 2013 opening date.

I've made it a point to do what I can to donate money to the building of the National Law Enforcement Museum (www.nleomf.org/museum/) and to try to encourage others to honor some of America's real heroes by giving a little cash. I encourage you to do the same. 

Ed Nowicki, a nationally recognized police use-of-force and training expert, is a retired police officer.  He is the executive director emeritus of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA) and a member of the POLICE Magazine Advisory Board.


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