To the Editor:
I’m a football mom. Every season, I answer the “Why do you let your sons play football?” question. My answer is simple. I always say, “Because I cannot imagine them enjoying anything more, and they have learned so much.”
The next question is, “Aren’t you worried they will get injured?” Yes, I am concerned they could be injured. However, I’m confident that our sons, their coaches, teammates and officials are properly educated on risks of the game and can recognize signs of concussions.
I’ve read the recent article and editorials regarding proposed legislation preventing children younger than 12 from participating in organized tackle football. I was especially proud of Eric Olson suggesting that tackle football is boys being boys. I respect an editor who’s willing to express an opinion that may be met with objection.
My sons were in second and third grade when Sycamore Youth Football started. They are a sophomore and a junior in college now and are both still are playing football. It’s been a privilege to watch them develop as athletes and young men! We took our sons to a session hosted by Chris Nowinski about research related to and risks of concussions. I’ve read his book, “Head Games.”
As athletes, our sons have attended numerous training sessions about head injuries, symptoms, baseline testing, how to recognize signs, etc. My husband was on the SYFL board when they adopted USA Football training for coaches. We are informed parents who still allow our sons to play football.
Yes, my sons could get a severe injury on the field. I relate each game to watching your teenager pull out of the driveway shortly after getting their driver’s license. Yes, they are an accident risk, but we let them drive the car anyway.
It’s important to focus on the positive things children gain from participation in organized athletics. My sons are not being exploited. They are learning valuable life lessons. They were surrounded by dedicated volunteers in youth leagues and their high school and college coaches become mentors dedicated to making men while winning football games.
I asked my sons what the top things they learned from football are.
Leadership was their only common answer. Character, humility, accountability, discipline, attention to detail and responsibility rounded out the list.
Please make an effort to dwell on the positive. Many boys benefit from football, and I’m proud to be a football mom.