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Why every football player should read Plato

BY Margaret Myers  September 2, 2014 at 4:25 PM EST

Football may have replaced baseball as America’s pastime, but it’s also become a sport mired in controversy — from the reported risks of concussions to the off-field behavior of its players. But author Mark Edmundson says the game can also be a great motivator for young men, instilling in them the virtues of hard work, confidence and teamwork.

Jeffery Brown sat down with Edmundson, author of “Why Football Matters: My Education in the Game,” to find out what makes football such an integral part of American culture.

Edmundson said the sport can even serve as an inspiration for the type of discipline needed for intellectual training. Train your body and your brain, he said.

“I’d like to see kids who are out playing football reading a book like the Iliad,” Edmundson told Brown. “And look at instances of courage there, Achilles’ kind of courage, Hector’s kind of courage, Diomedes’ kind of courage. Figuring out what those things are, using their brains and then applying them to their own lives.”

And when it comes to football safety, Edmundson also recommends that players heed the advice of Plato.

“Not being afraid of anything is not an admirable quality. Knowing what to be afraid of is an admirable quality.”

Watch Jeffrey Brown’s full conversation with Mark Edmundson on the good and the bad of playing football, from Monday’s PBS NewsHour.