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General Writing and Grammar Help/follow up question related to the usage of the word "foolhardy"


Dear Ted,
I have a follow up question related to my earlier question about the use of the word "foolhardy". You told me how the word can be used to describe an "action", such as skydiving, but my question is can it be used to describe a sport, such as "football", when you refer to the sport as a noun? In other words, I now realize that you can say "playing football is foolhardy" (The action, playing the sport, is foolhardy). But you can use the word in relation to football when you talk about "football" as a noun? In other words, do the following sentences make sense?
1. High schools should ban football because it's a foolhardy game.
2. Football is a foolhardy sport.
3. Football is a foolhardy game, thus you shouldn't play it.

Dear Glen:

There are some qualities that apply to the word "foolhardy."  For instance, if a person has skydived a number of times, the word "foolhardy" would not apply.  The person has already proven that he is capable of making such dives, so little danger would apply to his diving once again.

In recent years, football players have suffered numerous injuries that have disabled them, or, in some cases left them with brain injuries.  Also, deaths have occurred on the football field, during practices and also during the games themselves.

The National Football League has made changes in the rules for certain kinds of "hits."  These safety measures filter down to college and high school players.

I do not think that your three sentences are appropriate.  Even though football CAN BE DANGEROUS, walking across a busy street can also be dangerous.  However, there are special ways for which you can suggest that the very sport itself should be outlawed because the danger is extremely high.  EXAMPLE:  Having a team of girls playing football against a team of boys is a foolhardy sport.

There is such a great difference between girls and boys in the strength and ability to "hit" and to cause injuries.

I would use this sentence:  Football can sometimes be dangerous to the players; players with obvious disadvantages should NOT be permitted on football teams.

You can't call football "foolhardy" in a general statement, because it does not apply to everyone.  If a weak player attempts to play football, then HE is being foolhardy.

Up until a few years ago, throwing a javelin was part of all track-and-field meets.  Then a student waiting the event from the sidelines was actually killed when an athlete threw the "spear," and it flew out of control, killing the young man who was watching.  Also most all schools have banished the event of javelin throwing from a track meet.  [It is still part of the Olympics.]

If a disabled or maimed person were to attempt to play ANY rough or difficult sport, then HIS actions would be foolhardy.  The sport itself would not be.

For instance, a person who must use a wheelchair to get around would be "foolhardy" if he tried to play tennis against someone who can use both legs.  The handicapped tennis player would be foolhardy if he played against a person whose body had no limitations.  Playing tennis, the sport itself, would NOT be foolhardy.

Incidentally, a beginning chess player would be foolhardy, if he chose to play against a chess champion.


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Ted Nesbitt


I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.


I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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