Would you let your kid play football?
There has been, and will continue to be a ton of talk when it comes to player safety in sports and particularly football. This is something I have gone back and forth with honestly. Now however the question of “would you let your kid play” or “how would you feel about this if it were your child” seems to coincide with this topic. So I have given this a lot of thought recently, with the President saying he would think twice about letting his hypothetical son play the game. There is no ignoring the dangers of the game, that is a fact, but I also think it should be equally difficult to ignore the positives of the game too, especially for teens/adolescents and young men. The game of football teaches you so much more than just fundamentals. It is the ultimate team sport, it teaches you responsibility and accountability. It teaches you sacrifice and doing something for the greater good, and being a part of something bigger than any individual. At least these are some of the lessons I was able to take away from it. That does not mean that you can’t learn some of these things in other sports, quite frankly if my son happens to be lucky enough and worked hard enough to have the option of making his own choice of which sport to pursue for college etc, I would encourage him to play baseball because it is lowest risk with highest reward, and also to me, was the sport that was most fun in a casual, less stressful way. But having a son, whose favorite game at 2 years old is already throwing a ball around the house, deciding when and if to put him into football, if he desires to play is a decision that I know will have to be made. For the longest time I’ve felt that no matter which decision I make is lose, lose. Either lose the opportunity to play a great game, make great relationships and bonds with teammates, and learn lessons, some of which will stick with you forever. Or put my son, someone who you would do anything to protect, to hope they never had to feel any kind of pain at all, at risk. Well I think I have come to my conclusion, and that is it’s ok for my son to play this game that teaches you so much. For awhile I thought maybe tell him you can only play if you play quarterback, or kicker where the game and rules somewhat protect you, then I realized you are going to hurt in life, it is inevitable, things aren’t always going to go your way, and in my opinion there is no other game that teaches you adversity like football. However if and when the day comes that my son decides he does want to play football, before he is signed up, he will be old enough to understand some of the risks, maybe not all of them, but there is no such thing as too young to prepare them for what could happen to them. And it is also equally important to keep stressing, and emphasizing so that they are aware of what they’ve “signed up for” as Ed Reed put it this week. That may mean that my son isn’t able to play football until middle school, or high school even, if that’s how long it takes for him to grasp what is at risk, and what COULD possibly happen when he plays. Or maybe when we have that conversation, he will make the decision that he does not want to take that risk and would go the route I suggested earlier and just play another awesome sport like baseball. Whatever happens in the end, I don’t think it’s right for me to deprive him of something that can affect you and be such a positive thing for a young man.
Richard “PorkChop” Rodawalt
Follow Richard on twitter @PorkChop971