This Sunday, millions will gather around their big screen televisions to watch the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams duke it out on the football field. Children will cheer on their favorite players, and even imagine themselves one day playing in the Super Bowl. Maybe they just started tossing the ball around in their yard, maybe they are already in a pee-wee league, or maybe they have played long enough to more than dream of going pro some day.
For many parents, that would be amazing. I am not one of those parents. I am a parent who is afraid to let my kids play football.
My fear, admittedly, is odd, when you think about how I parent. I don’t hover over my children, attempting to prevent every scrape and fall. I let them climb on precarious structures and balance on shaky logs and narrow ledges. I let them take risks.
I am also open to them trying all sorts of activities, including sports.
But, football is different. Football scares me.
I watch a player get slammed to the ground, knocked unconscious, and wonder, if his brain can handle much more. I cringe when another is hit just right so that his leg snaps into a grotesque twisted mangled mess.
I wonder if that is the life I want for my children?
I understand, my children are probably at greater risk of getting hurt in an automobile accident, than they would be playing football. I know statistics on football-related brain injuries can be manipulated to draw a certain conclusion. I know football can be a great way to build character, develop leadership skills and nurture healthy habits.
I get it.
But, if either of my children came to me and asked if they could try football, I would have a tough time saying, “yes.”
And, I believe, my husband would, as well.
My husband loves football. I would call it an obsession, though he might disagree. He lives for his college team (The Ohio State) and is a lifelong fan of the New York Football Giants. He enjoys watching the game and teaching our kids about the various rules, which they probably understand more than I do.
Yet, he isn’t pushing our kids into playing football. He might even be more afraid than I am, because he knows the game so well and has seen what it can do to a person.
Sure, he enjoys tossing the ball around with them outside, but that’s about it for now.
We are lucky this is non-issue. My six-year-old has shown no real interest in joining a league, and our three-year-old is just too young. I know that can change as they grow, which would make use question our beliefs about the game.
For now, we will enjoy the game from the comfort and safety of our couch.