15 life lessons from football that shouldn't be overlooked

By Mike McCann | Posted 4/2/2018

While I had my share of injuries in a decade of playing football, nearly all came during my college years, when the speed and intensity ticked up quite a few notches.

And I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything in the world.

I played football from the time I was 12 years old until I was 22. I earned a full scholarship to play safety at Charleston Southern University, and was fortunate enough to have my education – a bachelor's degree and the better part of an MBA – paid for because of my physical abilities.

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The lessons I learned from football are priceless. They've helped me in my post-football career (yes, there's life after football). I learned how to tackle people and catch a leather ball, but more importantly, how to lead others and the value of practice. I learned life skills that many of my peers are still trying to figure out at 30 years old.

I was given an unfair advantage because of the time I spent playing football. Not only did I have a support group of peers who looked out for me, I was blessed with a number of mentors who cared about me and wanted me to succeed.

The media endlessly talks about the risks of football and the danger of collisions. What's often overlooked are the benefits that come from the game. The life lessons that young men learn while they play it are priceless.

Here are 15 things football taught me that I use every day:

1. How to compete: There are two types of competition: competition with others, and yourself. Football teaches both. When you face an opponent, you have to study film (research) and think critically about how to beat them (game theory), come up with a game plan (planning), and make that plan come to life (execution).

Individually, you must improve your body to become a better player. If you don't learn to compete with yourself and improve every day, you'll be the weakest link in the chain. That in itself is pressure enough to improve.