Parents Face “The Football Question” (take the poll)

As summer reaches its peak (in Houston, that’s a pretty lofty peak–high temperatures around 100F all week), football looms on the horizon, with training camp getting started for pro, college, and high school football. For a lot of American parents, a question hovers over that same horizon: “should I let my kid play football?”

This leather helmet with plaque is an award Dick Ackerman won playing football in Upstate New York in the late 1950's. Ironically, since Ackerman lost a leg after a football injury, the plaque has a leg broken off below the knee.
This leather helmet with plaque is an award Dick Ackerman won playing football in Upstate New York in the late 1950’s. Ironically, since Ackerman lost a leg after a football injury, the plaque has one leg broken off below the knee. Dick and his wife Susan were understandably hesitant about granting their son Jeff permission to play football in the late 1970’s.

In my research for Farewell to Football, which included quite a few interviews with parents, I found four main answers to that question:

  1. No, I would rather my child not play tackle football
  2. I will let my child play tackle football while s/he’s young and small, but no high school football, based on the theory that very young kids aren’t big enough or fast enough to cause much damage through collisions
  3. I will only let my child play flag football until s/he’s in high school (age 14-plus), based on the somewhat opposite theory that young bodies aren’t fully-formed and thus more susceptible to serious injuries, especially concussions, and shouldn’t engage in collision sports until their bodies are somewhat mature
  4. I will let my child play tackle football as soon as s/he wants to, for as long as s/he wants to

What do you think?

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