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    Benefits of football, as a sport and a way of life, outweigh its ills

     A Pop Warner coach led young athletes through drills on a November evening in 2010.
    DINA RUDICK/GLOBE STAFF/FILE
    A Pop Warner coach led young athletes through drills on a November evening in 2010.

    Last week’s snowstorm must have left sports columnist Bob Ryan with an unusual case of cabin fever. How else can one explain his column asking whether America would be “better off” without football?

    In “Considering the case against football” (Sports, Feb. 10), Ryan bases his argument on the premise that football is violent and unsafe, and diminishes the sport’s coaches as ignorant advocates. Tell that to the coaches across America who become role models for fatherless young men.

    While he notes the sport’s otherworldly athleticism and drama, Ryan disregards the chief benefits that football provides to tens of thousands of voluntary — note that: voluntary — participants nationwide. These benefits include demanding militaristic yearlong physical and emotional dedication, instilling accountability, and building a fierce devotion to the greater team no matter the circumstances — all principles that are key to succeeding well beyond the sport.

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    As a former college football player who competed against and played with peers from diverse backgrounds nationwide, I did not gain fulfillment by maiming people. I gained it knowing that, through tireless work, 50 to 90 young adults could accomplish their collective goal before galvanized, jubilant communities on Friday nights and Saturdays in the fall.

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    Thanks to football, those countless days in the gym and special moments on the field created memories that left me, teammates, coaches, families, friends, and community members all better off.

    Michael Kaplun

    Arlington, Va.