It’s football season again, keeping many Americans glued to their televisions on Sundays and Thursday nights as well. Football, and sports in general, can bind families together. It’s something that different generations have in common and over which they can bond.
It makes sense that some kids who watch football will want to play it. Their favorite NFL players are larger than life, and the kids know they’re making lots of money, too. What’s not to love?
As for the parents, it’s tough to figure out whether they should encourage their child in their NFL dreams, or whether they should discourage them. There are definitely compelling reasons both for and against this particular sport.
Let’s examine both viewpoints.
The main reason for parents to keep kids from playing football is that many serious injuries happen on the field. They might include:
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries
Many parents worry about traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, in particular. They have good reason to do so. More than 30% of people who suffer a TBI suffer headaches long after they recover.
Also, some people are never the same after these injuries. They might suffer personality changes, mood swings, and depression. They may act violently toward their loved ones.
Football players who start at a very young age, playing Pop Warner, continue throughout middle school and high school. If they’re trying to reach the pros, that trajectory means getting hit in the head thousands of times before they get there.
Helmets help, but they can only do so much when you have big, strong individuals crashing into each other in a totally sanctioned way. What parent wouldn’t worry about the potential consequences?
Sports Help Kids
Now let’s look at this from the other side of things. Sports help kids in several key ways. For instance:
- They help kids stay active
- They keep them away from drugs and gangs
- They keep them school-oriented
Childhood obesity is a real problem these days, and anything a parent can do to encourage their kid to be active, they should do it. Playing football, even with the risks involved, might be better than your child returning home from school and immediately playing video games in their room for hours.
If a child grows up in a rough neighborhood, they might face drug and gang influences. A child must avoid these two destructive forces. One sure way to accomplish this is to keep them after school at football practice among coaches and teachers who care about them.
Also, many studies show that if a child plays a sport, they are less likely to drop out. If your child drops out, it makes it much more difficult for them to succeed in life. There are very few jobs they can do without a high school diploma, at a minimum.
Weighing the Positives and Negatives
Each parent must make their own decision about whether the positives we’ve talked about win out over the negatives concerning football. Let’s say that you’re raising your child in a rough area. Drugs, gangs, and violence form their reality.
In this instance, you could say that yes, football is risky, but it’s probably not as bad as knowing that your child is running around in the streets after school. You might tell them to come straight home after school while you’re still at work, but peer pressure may convince them to do otherwise.
If this scenario is true for you, you might be okay with letting your child put on the pads and getting out there on the field. If you trust the coaches, and your child really wants to do it, you might relent.
What if You Say No?
You also might decide that there is simply too much risk. Maybe your child loves watching football on TV, but you’re too worried about concussions and CTE. You’ve seen the research, and you know the health impact this game can have.
You still want activities for your child, so they’ll stay out of trouble and burn off some calories. What is the solution?
Probably, you’ll need to find some other sport or activity for your child. There are tons of different sports they can play that are not as dangerous as football. You might look into basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer, tennis, swimming, running track, and many others.
Your child might love watching his favorite football players every Sunday, but you’re the parent, so this is ultimately your decision. If you have a partner or spouse, the two of you must be a united front. You can’t give your child contradictory messages.
They’ll Get Over It
Even if your child enjoys watching football and wants to play it, they’ll get over it eventually if you put your foot down. There are so many other sports they can play. The fact remains that football stands apart regarding how many kids and adults get hurt while playing it.
Your child might fall in love with another sport once they give it a try. If they show an aptitude, they might even try to turn pro with baseball, basketball, or something else.
There are plenty of other sports with a high ceiling if you’re looking at how much money someone can make, not to mention how famous the players can become. Your child can still dream big if they take up another, less dangerous sport.
This decision might impact your child a great deal in their life. It’s not hyperbolic to say that whether or not you allow them to play a sport this dangerous can directly determine where their life leads.
You might decide that it’s worth it for the benefits, or that it’s too dangerous because of the risks. In either case, you can continue watching these real-life superheroes smashing into each other every Sunday from your living room couch.
Whether your child plays or not, this can still be the bonding activity that brings the whole family closer together.