Theodore Roosevelt Biography Essay Example

Typically, it is the parents’ responsibility to guide their children down the correct path. The path often looks different for every child; however, the ultimate goal is for the child to be successful. Parents aim to instill morals and values within their children that align with their own, hoping their kids will one day prosper as a result. Many parents encourage their children to participate in athletics because of the valuable lessons they can provide. Despite the benefits of sports, when does athletic participation lose its value? Former U.S. President, Theodore Roosevelt attempts to convince his son, Ted Roosevelt, to end his football career because he believes Ted should have greater priorities. 

In order to initially establish a relationship with his son, Roosevelt must build trust in the beginning of his letter. Ted is more likely to heed his father’s advice if he trusts Theodore. Roosevelt begins his letter by informing Ted he “had consulted [his] Mother and thought the matter over,”(line 2). Later on, Roosevelt admits, “I am proud of your pluck, and I greatly admire football,”(lines 6-7). By mentioning the time spent pondering the situation and disclosing his feelings towards his son and football, Theodore builds a foundation of trust with his son. Ted can have confidence in Theodore’s response and know his father honestly aims to help him make the best decision. 

Roosevelt then addresses concerns about Ted’s physical health after building credibility. Theodore claims, “the very things that make it a good game make it a rough game, and there is always the chance of [his] being laid up,” (lines 8-9). Roosevelt is “by no means sure that it is worth [Ted’s] while to run the risk of being laid up for the sake of playing second squad,” (lines 13-14). Although Ted is physically capable of playing football, it is unclear if he will play at the varsity level. The risk of injury is greater than the benefit of playing on junior varsity in the eyes of Theodore. Physical health proves to be valuable to Roosevelt, and he is attempting to convey the importance of taking care of your body. 

After addressing concerns for Ted’s physical health, Roosevelt expresses concern for Ted’s mental well-being. He compares the risk of injury to, “the possibility of bitterness of spirit if [he] could not play,”(line 16-17). Roosevelt acknowledges how Ted would feel if he could not participate in the football season, which will lead Ted to believe his father understands his point of view. By validating Ted’s feelings, Roosevelt reveals he values emotional wellness, too.  Eventually, Roosevelt comes to the conclusion that although sitting out of football would be mentally difficult for Ted, the other possible risks are too great. 

Towards the end of his letter, Roosevelt points out other priorities and how sports can become a distraction. For example, Theodore does not want Ted to “sacrifice standing well in [his] studies to any over-athleticism,” (line 26). Theodore also describes how athletics “distracted [Greek athletes’] minds from all serious pursuits, including soldiering,” (lines 31-32). Roosevelt concludes, “A man must develop his physical prowess up to a certain point; but after he has reached that point there are other things that count more,” (line 35-36). It becomes clear Roosevelt does not believe Ted should continue his football career because other pursuits are more valuable.. 

Theodore Roosevelt, a concerned father, wanted to help his son make the best possible decision. To do so, Roosevelt evaluated the situation himself, reached a conclusion and offered the best advice he could with the hope his son would accept it. Throughout the letter, Roosevelt’s values become apparent in the way he assesses his child’s impasse. Roosevelt values both physical and mental well-being, academics and the ability to prioritize time wisely. As a parent, Theodore Roosevelt  attempted to instill his own values within his son, just as so many other parents seek to do.



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