The “I wouldn't let my kids play football / hockey” people are the worst

Improve, don't eliminate, sports like football and hockey for kids

1/20/14 in NFL   |   ZacWassink   |   74 respect

Jun 5, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh (right) presents President Barack Obama (left) with a football jersey at The White House. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY SportsNothing, absolutely nothing, about head injuries is a joking matter.

We know far too much about the long-term effects of these injuries to think otherwise. I applaud professional sports organizations such as the NFL and NHL for doing all they have over the past several years to raise awareness of concussions and head traumas, and to also make games safer for everybody who plays.

There is a growing opinion/worry among certain sects of Americans that allowing kids to play sports such as hockey and football at young ages is not in the best interests of their youngsters. President Barack Obama, a man who twice won my vote, is among those concerned. Mr. Obama had the following to say on the matter:

“I would not let my son play football. At this point, there’s a little bit of caveat emptor. These guys, they know what they’re doing. They know what they’re buying into. It is no longer a secret. It’s sort of the feeling I have about smokers.”

My friends and I had a term for individuals such as yourself, Mr. President. That term was “wuss bucket.”

What Mr. Obama and other like-minded people fail to acknowledge is that just about everything that requires a moderate amount of energy and is fun could be considered to be dangerous. Every sport I played as a youth – football, hockey, baseball, basketball, soccer, you name it – brings with it concussion issues.

“I once got a concussion as a kid,” my buddy Andrew told me while we were watching what was a fantastic NFC Championship Game on Sunday night. “I was climbing a tree, fell out, smacked by head and that was that.”

As absurd as it might be to even suggest it, I can see it now: “Mothers Against Tree Climbing: Keep our kids safe!”

I, myself, a person who played in literally hundreds of football games during my childhood, was once diagnosed with a concussion. It was not the result of a hard tackle or my getting “lit up” while attempting to retrieve a pass over the middle.

Mine came during a middle school basketball game. I, a smaller guy compared to the teenager who happened to be playing center for the opposing side on that afternoon, drove to the basket and went up for a layup. The defender attempted to either block my shot or intentionally foul me to prevent me from scoring, and he, not the most athletic person you'll ever meet, accidentally drove me into the ground.

And then it all went black for a few seconds.

What occurred the couple of hours following that incident remains a blur, but I do recall not being allowed to go to bed until the middle of the night just as a precaution. My parents did not, after that one brain trauma, freak out and tell me that my playing days were done. I was out on the court in a week, and I played throughout my teenage years without suffering another similar injury.

My parents were protective, perhaps overprotective in certain instances, but they also knew what every good mom and dad know: You can't keep your kids safe every second of every day. Life happens. Things go wrong.

Let's utilize and even expand upon programs such as the NFL's “Heads Up” and youth hockey's “Safety Towards Others Players.” Let's not, however, raise a generation of people who are afraid of their own shadows because mommy and daddy read one too many articles on the Internet. You're afraid of letting your kids participate in sports such as football and hockey?

I'm grateful I wasn't raised by you.

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