Monday, December 30, 2013

Should kids play football?

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Shortly after I turned nine, I began to ask permission from my parents for a chance to play football. My father was an avid football fan and had coached a high school team. My mother, on the other hand, was a part-time music teacher, who was not fond of physically demanding and high-endurance sports.

Because of my age, my parents had their reservations, but eventually agreed to enroll me in the open house football team in our community. What persuaded them?

According to my dad, it was my motivation to play football. He recalled how I cried and mumbled about how I could never be a great football player some day. Afterward, I began attend trainings and drills, which I consider too demanding for my physical and mental age. This continued from grade school to high school, until I had to quit eventually as I entered college.

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Now that I am a father, the same question that must have given my parents headaches is thrown back at me: Should I allow my kid to play football? First point, football is fun, and sometimes fun means eating dirt. That is the tradeoff. Without a doubt, football is naturally dangerous, deeply rooted in violence and physical domination such as hitting, tackling, and knocking down your opponent.

Yet, looking back, the harm has seemed manageable for me as kid. Year after year, the sport taught me life lessons, introduced me to communities, and provided me excitement and entertainment.

The bottomline is football is not for everyone, but it was definitely for me. Therefore, if your kids ask you, trust your instincts and trust your kid. Let them know the consequences and give them the opportunity to know what they want.

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Jonathan Bunge is an avid traveler, loving father, and sports fan. Visit his blog for more articles on football.