Should parents let their children play football?

Payton Little

This is a question that has become more intense as football has become more competitive over the years. What once was just a high school sport more about being a team player has turned into a very competitive and some would call dangerous sport.
I was so excited to start playing football in middle school. My mom had not let me play before but decided to allow me to play for the school. On the first day of our full pad practice after school, it had started to rain a bit so the grass was slick. I had been teamed up against one of my friends and was so anxious to plow into him on the first play. I slipped and ended up falling and my knee dislocated in a place that would end up being extremely painful to get it back into place as well as being in a cast for two months and missing that entire football season.
Of course my mom’s reaction was that I would never play again. Her original fear was founded to be true as she watched me have to painfully rehabilitate. So you would think I would have never gotten to play again?
Today I am a sophomore and still playing football. A sport I love and a brotherhood that I enjoy. Are there risks? Yes. Are there more risks in football than other sports? Yes. But I love to play football. And after many conversations with my mom about it, she realized that taking football away from me wasn’t the answer to her fear.
Safety and precaution have come a long way with football and coaches and trainers. I am lucky to be within an organization that puts it’s players’ safety first and I know that played a huge part in my mom’s decision to let me play again. But there are also life lessons being learned in football that she knew she couldn’t teach me as well as my passion for the sport could.
It’s actually not the physical part of the sport that will advance me in life, but the brotherhood of football will be something that many men search for in life and why we are drawn to group sports. In football you face lots of adversity and you are forced to learn to overcome it. Football is getting me through quarantine while my coaches teach me how to keep my body in shape as well as my mind sharp. It gives me something to look forward to and appreciate more when we are able to get back to the field and work out together.
So should parents let their children play football? I can’t answer that question for other parents. But I’m thankful mine let me.