Philadelphia Eagles player Zach Ertz is worried about high school students in Pennsylvania who may have their season cancelled, relating how important sports were to his development as a teen.
Pennsylvania has now officially delayed fall sports until Aug. 24, and governor Tom Wolf is recommending that high school football be postponed until at least Jan. 1, 2021.
During a Zoom call Friday with NBC Sports Philadelphia, Ertz brought up the subject, wanting to talk about how important sports are in the lives of young people.
“I just want to talk a little bit about high school football and my experience,” Ertz said. “I was 15 years old, my parents separated, I was the oldest of four boys, and the only thing that I knew how to do, the only way I could express myself -- I was so frustrated inside -- the only thing I could do was play football. All I did was lift weights, play football, play basketball, and that allowed me to kind of release my internal stress and pressure that I had built up.
“And Tom Wolf came out with the recommendation that there is no fall football or fall sports in general. And the adversity I faced when I was 15 is about 1-1,000th of what many kids in this state in particular are going to be facing if they don’t have an outlet, if there is no football in the fall for these kids, and I would just really challenge everyone if the decision is no football, there’s got to be an alternative where we (don’t) just allow these kids to go about their days with no guidance, with no further investment.
“Obviously, football costs money. So if they were to disband football, where is that money going to go? I’d love to see it invested in these kids to make sure that they’re OK and taken care of and not on the streets from 3 to 7. Because that’s what I was fortunate enough to do. I had organization after school with football and basketball and I couldn’t imagine the path that I would have gone down if I didn’t have football to express myself.
“I want kids to be healthy, first and foremost, that is the primary goal, and if that is the decision to really think outside the box and how we can keep these kids safe.
Ertz grew up in Danville, Calif., and played football and basketball at Monte Vista High School. He earned a scholarship to Stanford, where he spent three years before joining the Eagles in 2013.