Why I let my kid play football (and coach him, too)
I played football at a high level for 12 years. From the age of 14, I played every fall until 2005, when my daughter was born and I wasn’t allowed to further subject my body to grievous injury because with a baby to look after, I wasn’t going to make my family’s life any harder.
I have dealt with a crippling ACL tear, one that ended my elite football playing career, arthritis, 14 concussions, several dislocated shoulders, aches, pains and general physical malaise that comes from thousands of collisions over the years that, given the size, speed and force of the athletes involved, are tantamount to low-speed car crashes. Thousands of them.
That said, I often get the question from people: would I let my son play football?
Not only would I, I allow him to play and I coach the team.
Football, for all its faults, gave me more than it ever took. It taught me the value of subjugating one’s ego for a greater goal, it taught me how to struggle physically for a worthy goal, it taught me the value of doing your job as well or better than another person, and it satisfied my love of physically testing myself another human being.
My son, for all his kind nature and gentleness, is a 10-year-old five-foot-six, 160-pound behemoth, who loves football so much he goes to sleep every night clutching one. He also enjoys testing himself in competition against others and also loves the fact that football is the ultimate team sport. It incorporates athleticism, tenacity, mental and physical fortitude and competitiveness like no other sport I have ever played, and I’ve tried most of ‘em.
Watching the joy on his face as he celebrates with his teammates after victories, throws the ball around with them after practice or just hanging around with his buddies after games tells me he could ove it even more than I did.
He’s also pretty blessed to be built like a brick shithouse.
At the risk of bragging, there’s not a kid at his age level my son can’t block.
Big plans for that one, and he loves the sport so much, I can’t see him stopping.