View Full Version : Fan and father roles clash?

07-03-2010, 09:48 AM
Good Dr:

I am as big a football as the next guy, loved playing in high school, do fantasy, blah blah. However, it seems to me football is a brutal enough sport (see: Chris Henry's previous brain injury possible contributing to his death) I wonder if I should discourage my kids from getting into it. Even with all the safety precautions, the sport still comes down to hurtling your body as fast as you can at super-strong guys. I wonder if you do or would discourage any loved ones of yours from playing? Just seems like such a bigger head-injury risk than baseball, basketball, soccer, etc. Thanks.


Dr Stephen Pomeranz
07-03-2010, 03:57 PM
Your question is an excellent one. Every sport comes with risk. For instance, in baseball, being struck by a batted ball while base running is an important cause of death in young children. A young batter struck in the chest by a baseball pitch can develop heart or cardiac arrest, sometimes resulting in instantaneous death. In other words, while the contact nature of football can be disconcerting, there are serious risks with all sports, some even more serious than in football.

Chris Henry's erratic behavior had a long history dating back to his college years and possibly earlier. While it is true that head trauma can alter personality and behavior, this is uncommon in the typical 20-30 year-old athlete and requires multiple injuries in specific locations.

The quality of equipment, skills of those who coach young men, and their medical support staff provide excellent protection in competitive football. Of course, we can always improve. But I would not let this factor alone stop you from engaging your son in the sport. None of my children have played, but three of my nephews were star players on their team. In the end, it's simply a judgment call, like deciding whether to let your kid drive somewhere far away or attend a party. There is always a risk. Thanks for the question and I hope I was of some help.

All the best,
Dr. P

Cris Collinsworth
07-03-2010, 04:14 PM
I think the value of lessons learned from football is worth the risk. The most important thing football teaches young people is that you WILL get knocked on your butt, and you have to get up. How many times do we all get knocked on our butts in life? You have to get up. For many, I think high school football has replaced the discipline of the military for my Father's generation. High School coaches are invaluable in our society today. I hate to think where our culture would be without the discipline instilled in young men and women from high school coaches.

07-04-2010, 01:20 PM
I agree with Cris, with the exception that I would be very uncomfortable with my child playing beyond high school. The statistics I have read mostly point to the prolonged, repeated exposure as the bigger risk, with few cases of extensive injury to those ending their participation with the reception of their high school. In my personal case, I began contact football in seventh grade and stopped after high school, with only six years of play in total. I was able to reap the benefits and lessons of having an exceptional leader of a high school coach, values that have transcended the game and made a substantial impact on my life. I have no whims or doubts about the time I spent playing football, and the only serious sports injury I ever endured came in baseball, not football.

So I guess, assuming that I too will have a son someday, is that my worries would only start once my son entertained thoughts of playing post-high school. Until then, it is too good of an opportunity to pass up.

07-10-2010, 10:25 PM
I agree with Cris also, there is just too much to learn with football. IF your son gets the opportunity to continue to play past high school level then you can help with his decision with the new developments with these head/brain injuries.

07-10-2010, 10:47 PM
Good Points Men; Hot Topics come up in the media like the concussions and brain injuries in football but even if the media decides to take a vacation from it, players are still experiencing those risks each time they play. Families gotta come together with the player to understand their future plans and the player should decide their future based on what is right for them. Brian Westbrook appears to be one of those players in the present.

07-10-2010, 11:03 PM
Exactly, as we learn more information, our jobs as parents and adults is to constantly educate the youth on these injuries. We must also continue to invest money into finding the safest way possible to play. (Pads or helmets)

07-10-2010, 11:09 PM
Absolutely Bayou; People don't stop learning and when people get older they have more to learn when they take on more responsibilities. It Mos Deff helps to have parents there to help their child with the learning process by educating them and making sure they know all they can.

07-10-2010, 11:27 PM
It also helps that the media keeps pushing this. Also players need to understand that when you get concussions sometimes you can't just "suck it up" and keep playing the game. You might have to take it easier. You want to be able to enjoy your joys on the field when you grow up. Not just be reminded of them and forget them the next minute because your brain is fried. I know it is not the same sport but it really is sad when you look at someone like Ali.