American football is a high impact sport. You have to willingly give yourself to the sport or you should really get out. Why? Because fear or hesitation puts you at a disadvantage that can get you hurt.
Even if you play it well, even if you are a marvelous athlete with strength, speed, balance and good instincts, it will deliver pain your direction. One of the first lectures I received from a football coach - and this was a good one floating in a sea of inanity to be honest - was on the difference between pain and injury. The coach told us that this was one of the most valuable lessons to be learned from playing football, the ability to distinguish the difference. A lot of plays end and the next play begins with you as a player in pain. Few plays involve significant injury.
Here are some of the things I learned about the two:
1. Many of the most painful things are not injurious at all. Like whacking your crazy bone will light you up, it really doesn't incapacitate you for very long.
2. Some of the most injurious things hurt very little, if at all, at the time of injury. I broke my arm pretty severely playing ball and it was not painful. Until they set it. And through the next week. Oh, Lordy!
3. Continuous exposure to pain makes it less noticeable. As the season goes on, things that would really bother you at another time really don't matter to much.
4. Those obsessed and blessed, those who have future aspirations and possibilities in the sport, have a different assessment of injury than the rest of us. I actually heard a sportscaster ask a pro what he considered to be a serious injury and his reply was, "If it takes out a support member." In other words, if it just hurts like hell, if it doesn't slow you don't or rob you of your strength, it is not serious. One of our local pros had the bottom joint of one of his fingers amputated rather than being hindered by it and missing the playoffs!
5. Coaches are much more likely to think it is merely pain than most players are.
Now, these truths actually apply pretty well to emotional pain, too. In our lives, we have to determine those things which bring us pain but will pass as opposed to those things which will incapacitate us and leave scars. Many soldiers returning from combat zones are emotionally scarred. Most teenagers who have broken up with their first true love will recover just fine. But, the teenager may experience his pain more immediately in some ways than the soldier and that is one of the danger signs.
That, to me, is one of the greatest lessons in life to be gleaned from American football. I bet shackman knows what I'm talking about. He was good!