Established in 1810, the Lawrenceville School in Lawrence township, New Jersey, has the longest running active full contact intramural football league in the nation. However, school officials have called the game.
Director of Athletics Michael Goldenberg said Thursday that he and Headmaster Liz Duffy decided to switch the game from full contact to flag football.
Duffy cited concerns for safety as the main reason for the change. She told The Lawrence, “What we do worry about is that boys in the house will feel pressured to play House Football, and frankly I don’t worry about that as much if it’s flag football because there’s not the same level of danger.”
There has been a huge backlash among current students and alumni at the alma mater of White House spokesman Jay Carney. A Facebook group entitled “Bring Back House Football” was immediately created and many expressed their displeasure with the change.
Alumnus Maurice Hakim wrote on the page, “This is just another tragic piece of fallout from the PC ethos that has permeated our culture since the late 1980′s and, I dare say, contributed to the emasculation our young men. Call it what you will; but when I see long held traditions thrown into the dust bin of history, it makes me puke.”
Alumnus Michael Chan wrote, “I can say that Lawrenceville House Football was one of the shining moments of my time at Lawrenceville, and one of the memories that I will miss the most. To bastardize this 125 year tradition is madness. Lawrenceville will certainly be under the microscope from thousands of alumni. And we will certainly be speaking with through our donations if this continues.”
The school’s official statement from Headmaster Duffy, posted on its Facebook page, states, “I appreciate how important House football is at Lawrenceville and I am optimistic that, by playing non-contact football, we will be able to continue this cherished tradition into the future. The reason so many Lawrenceville traditions have endured is because they’ve been able to evolve as circumstances change. I’m looking forward to an exciting season for all of Big Red’s football teams – varsity, junior varsity, and House.”
The league was set up so that students residing in the different houses could play each other for house pride. There are yearly rivalry games between the houses called “The Crutch,” “The Muffler,” and “Pride of the Circle.”
While safety, and concussions specifically, have been a hot topic recently in football, changing a tradition that has been around for over a century, seems un-American. Check out this video to see what football means to the school. Most notably, the opening line states, “No way better to respect each other and know each other than to hit each other.”