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Original Issue

When football is fun

There are no ulcerated coaches barking orders, no frantic alumni demanding victory and no cleats in the face. For these California youngsters, in fact, football is nothing but a goofy, freewheeling after-school exercise in gang-tackle pile-ons, devil-may-care line plunges, and skittering breakaways. They think football is a lot of fun, and they are wise to play it for fun while they can. Later on, when these enthusiastic 8-to-11-year-olds move along to high school and college, they will see the game change. They will learn that football is often more work than play, that it is intensive memorizing and interminable practice and that it sometimes brings the too bitter taste of defeat. They will learn above all that, for a little boy grown up, football is no laughing matter.