My View from the Stadium: Will I Let My Son Play Football?

Every fall Friday night for all of my high school career, my parents knew where I was: at a football game. No, I was not a female football player—I was a drill team member. But I felt every bit a part of the team. I remember the fanfare of getting my makeup done before the game and the thrill and excitement of a game-winning touchdown.  I lived for the game.

So naturally, I had to keep the magic alive when I went to college. So, like any good ol’ Texan I went to a college that valued my love of football- the University of Michigan. Now there are other reasons I chose U of M—but our football team made the choice just a little easier.

Fast forward 20 years later and my 8-year-old son wants to play football. Cue the scratching record—my first thought was, uh that’s gonna be a no for me, dawg. But how could I justify waking up every Saturday morning to go to tailgates or making sure every Alexa device in my home reminded me of the game times and scores, and yet not allow my son to play the game that I loved?

Before making a decision about my son playing football, I had to first reconcile a few things.

kid handing off footballIt’s Not About Me

This may seem slightly dramatic, but I really did have to realize that at some point my son is going to do what he wants to do. And that may or may not include football. It is not about me. As a parent, I am only responsible for coaching him. Coaching him to do the right thing for himself, his health and the people he loves.  He also needs to know that football is my thing, and that it is okay for him to like collecting Pokemon cards instead of wanting to watch or play a sport.

Knowing the Risks

I told my son in a kid-friendly way my fears about the health risks associated with playing football. Concussions are real– Texas Children’s hospital has a state of the art facility and many skilled practioners confirm this. As Maya Angelou said “When we know better we do better,” so to help my son make better choices I will inform in an appropriate way of the risks attached to the decision to play a contact sport like football.

The Positives of Playing Football

Lastly, I told my son why I love football. The memories, the friends, the parties and good food. And then I said, you can choose. You can choose to watch the games with me. You can choose to play football or join marching band, or even be a trainer. Whatever you decide I will help you and support you because that’s what mommas do.

Ultimately, we want our kids to play sports because of the values they learn. Teamwork, grit, resilience, and how to win and lose with grace are all important. But the truth is you can learn those values in many other ways too. We do not have to commit to football; he can learn that same skill at a Science Fair.  It takes a lot of teamwork to negotiate which Pokemon cards to trade, right? {Okay I might be pushing it but you get the idea}

And that’s what fans do too, right? We support our team when they are winning and when they are losing. We complain about the overpriced stadium foods, but we return again next season with our branded team swag.

My son may never play football, or maybe he will. But like other parts of his life, he will learn to love something for all of its glory—the good, the bad, and the ugly.


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