I have two boys under three and thus far in their young lives I’ve spent the majority of my time keeping them from death. This usually involves protecting their heads from hard things; tables, floors, car doors, sidewalks — you name it, I’ve shielded a head from it. And since I spend most of my time protecting their precious noggins I cannot fathom enrolling them in a sport that involves them crashing those same sweet heads into the sweaty heads of other mothers’ sons, helmet or no. Quite frankly, with all we know about concussions and their effects on the brain I can’t imagine any mama wanting her boy to play football.
A poll over on Today confirms that while parents are worried about their kids playing football, most aren’t doing much about it. According to an Associated Press-GfK poll in July of more than 1,000 parents, nearly half (44%) said concerns about the long-term impact of concussions leaves them feeling uncertain about letting their kids play football. Regardless of their discomfort with the sport, however, only about five percent of parents admit to steering their child away from playing it.
I have no problem discouraging my sons from playing football. In fact, I will do everything within my power to keep them interested in other sports. Lucky for me, their dad is on the same page. We both agree that soccer or baseball are much better options for our boys, especially when they’re young. The hope is that by fostering a love of those sports the boys will continue to enjoy them as they hit high school age. It’s hard to know what I’d say if my 16-year-old son came to me begging to play football and I suppose we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, but for now we’re all about soccer, baby.
Cathy Curtin, a high school rifle coach in northeast Pennsylvania, is another parent who discourages her children from playing football. She tells a local ABC affiliate, the fact that identifying a head injury relies on the student’s input following a collision is a huge area of concern because her 21-year-old son “would have said anything” to remain in the game while in high school, including hiding symptoms such as dizziness from a trainer or coach. “Our training staff is good, but you can’t always know,” Curtin said. “You’re basing whether they can play on their say. And they are 16-year-old kids, 17-year-old kids who want more than anything to get out there and play.”
Curtin’s younger son broke his collarbone and leg while playing football as a freshman. “Nowhere in that time did they check him for a concussion,” Curtin said. “So, if he got hit hard enough to break his collar bone and his leg, then how hard did he hit the ground, too?”
As we’ve seen playing out on the news, there are several lawsuits challenging how concussions are addressed in pro and college sports. As Today notes, “Thousands of pro players sued the NFL and a $675 million settlement that would compensate them for concussion-related claims is pending. A tentative settlement with the NCAA, meanwhile, would create a $70 million fund to test thousands of current and former college athletes for brain trauma.”
I don’t care how much the American culture idolizes the sport, why anyone would want their child involved in something so potentially harmful when it can easily be avoided with other equally-fulfilling, safer sports, is beyond me.
What about you? Are you comfortable letting your kids play football? Why or why not?
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