My 11 YO Is Quitting Football. to Let or Not to Let?

Updated on August 21, 2010
K.B. asks from Fullerton, CA
23 answers

I have an athletic 11 year old boy who wanted to play football. So we forked over the 300+ dollars to do that. Now, 2 weeks in, he is having a bad couple of days, sleeping wise, and it is impossible to get him to dress and get to football on time. Yesterday, he was rude to me, all day, and we finally got him dressed and ready, in a rather unpleasant way, and when he wouldn't give me a hug or kiss because he was still mad, his father, my hubby of 21 years, sort of snapped, got back in the car, and we all drove away. My son apologised to me, and was rather back to his normal self walking around Target. We, on the other hand, were harboring fury, frustration, and disappoinment. Hubby was really having fun doing this. We think our son was having fun. Have any of you dealt with this? there are all these things - money, committment, team, sucking it up, sacrifice, and more that we are having trouble reconciling. What do you think? What have you done? We have practice this afternoon, and hubby is going to give son one more chance. What should I do? My son doesn't do well listening to us talk. He sort of shuts down.

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So What Happened?

well, as always, you my MP friends have come to my rescue. I very seriously thank you all for your input. So, I toasted a pop tart, made him some hot chocolate, and sat down with the boy for breakfast. (I know, not nutritious, but very comforting, and his favorite.) I explained all the points calmly about commitment, attitude, etc... He took that very well. He had no real problems with football per se, but he did worry about his lack of sleep and being tired all the time. I reminded him that it is a short season - a couple of months. He was sort of disappointed when I said he had to finish it out. BUT hubby had no problem getting him there, and hubby wrote an email to coaches letting them know what was going on. They gave him some extra encouragement, and my dear boy seemed quite happy after practice. It all seemed SO CRITICAL yesterday, and now, I feel such relief. I really needed to know that most people believe the same as I do, and you all helped me see that. THank you for taking time to help your internet sister friend(me)!

Featured Answers



answers from Augusta on

I would not let my kid quit after starting the season.
He promised the team he'd play the season and he needs to full fill that promise. If he wants to not do it next season fine but he finishes this season. Not because of the money but because he made a commitment and if you let him break it he will learn nothing except that if somethings hard or he doesn't like it he can just quit.That's not how real life works.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

I always told my son that he never had to sign up again but he always had to finish whatever season he started. He made a commitment and needed to stick w/ it.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Chicago on

I would never let my daughter quit a team sport. She made a commitment to the team, and to us and we made a $ commitment and time commitment to her. If, though, she were playing tennis or golf, I would consider it because it doesn't affect other people. It does affect the team, though, when one member quits. It will be a good lesson to your son in sucking it up. They all need lessons in that!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

He made the commitment.
He needs to finish the season. No questions asked.
Once the season is over, he never has to do it again.


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

One more chance for what?

Your son needs to finish what he committed to. This is a GREAT life lesson.

You stick it out if you commit and you carefully consider what you commit to.

How many of us “yes” people commit to things we don’t want to do because our friends ask us, then our attitude sucks as we do it, we complain to our families/friends about having to do it, we do a bad job because our heart isn’t into it or we are OVER committed.

Football is tough and usually coaches try to weed out during the first part of a season. If he sticks it out it probably will get easier, especially as he becomes better conditioned, more experienced, gains some confidence and understands what is expected of him.

Don’t buy into taking the easy road. You can certainly see the adults in life who were raised that way. This stick-to-it-ness will help to build a strong work ethic.

Don’t yell, don’t argue, don’t take it personal. You’re the parent he is the child. Being a parent sometimes means taking the hard stance. Let him vent (respectfully) and just smile and say "I understand", "I hear you", "Only 12 more weeks." "Make the best of it". Don't engage in negative, be positive. YOU remember it is onlly 12 more weeks too!

Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

We went through the exact same thing with our 10 year old last Fall. It was his first time playing football and he was excited to play with all his friends. Problem was, he didn't like getting hit ~ sort of an issue in tackle football. He hated every practied and hated the games even worse! We told him that he had to continue on the team because he made a commitment and the team was counting on him. It was more about a life lesson than actually playing football. He really wasn't any good at the sport and preferred baseball instead. We told him he never had to play again if he didn't want to but just had to finish the season. It was the longest season of our lives! He finished and was pround of himself for doing so.

Hold to your guns and explain why he needs to finish. Then just say lots of prayers at night that it will be over soon.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I would sit him down and talk about fulfilling responsibiities. He started this season and his teammates are depending on him. If after this season he does not want to continue, then fine. But he needs to at least finish out the season.

Have you asked him why he is so upset about football? There may be something to his behavior.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

He made a commitment to the team and the other players, and to the person who set up all the rosters. He's committed.

I'd investigate why he's not sleeping - is something going on at practice that has upset him? Is he bothered by the heat under all that equipment? Was he criticized or ridiculed for not being talented enough? Is he frustrated because this is a new sport and he's not highly skilled at it?

I wouldn't force him to hug and kiss you if he's mad - just let it go. He's in a mood, and you can't force him out of it. I'm not sure what your husband means by "one more chance" - then what??

Certainly your child should be required to devote his practice time, if he quits, to household chores or working for neighbors until he earns back the $300. Perhaps more, so that a donation can be made to the team to make up for his lack of consideration. So, you could give him the choice of going to football or working at home. Not sure what he thinks he'll be doing if he doesn't go to practice, but there should be no TV, no video games, no computer, no getting together with friends, etc. He'll have lots more time to go to bed early and be well rested. Then stick to it. He's too big for you to drag around and put a uniform on, I get that, so if you can't force him to get up, you CAN determine what he does once he DOES get up.

You are entering the teen years so it's as good a time as any to show him that his parents are in charge. This stuff only gets worse! Even if he is too big for you to pick and and put him in the car, you can control what is important to him.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Hello K.. I have been in your shoes and wasn't sure what to do either. I had to step away from the situation and take out the "feelings" part of it and determine what lesson I would be teaching my son by letting him quit. He did this with Karate first. He wanted to quit after a few weeks, even though he was doing well in it. He didn't like having to wait around for the other kids to learn the lesson that day, and got frustrated. I told him that he made a commitment, and that he needed to stick to it. I also told him that if, when the classes were over, he did not want to sign up again for the next level of classes, that was his prerogative, but that he'd have to stick it out in this case. He ended up being very happy at the end of class, and actually signed up again.

On the other hand, when I signed him up for the Young Marines, he wanted to quit again, but this time he was a few months into it. I paid a lot of money for that program, money I didn't really have, at that time, to spend, but I felt it was for a good cause, and he was on board with it, also. He wanted to quit, but I gave him the "commitment" speech again. My breaking point came one day when, on the way there, he broke down crying, which was totally out of character for him. I made him go that day anyway, but in the car on the way over there we had a talk about it, and he said he just doesn't like to be there for 8 hours a day, getting yelled at all day. I thought to myself, "what fun is that???" and decided to see for myself what was going on. Initially, I stayed for a few of the sessions, and found that they did a lot of drills, and yes, there was plenty of yelling, but I was assured that there would be "fun" stuff, too. He would get to participate in parades, and things of that sort, but he only went to one parade the whole year he was in it. Well, it was almost a year. After I saw that all they were doing were drills, and the yelling had NOT ceased, I decided to remove him from the program myself. I had put him into the program hoping he would learn some discipline and respect, but at the same time, he was just a kid, and I wanted him to experience SOME fun in his life. We were both much happier once he left that day, and I have never looked back.

The choice is your, obviously, but I would suggest having him stick it out, and learning a valuable lesson about commitment. Those are just my thoughts on the subject :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I wouldn't force an 11 year old to hug and kiss me. And I wouldn't hold it against him if he didn't want to either.

That being said, I wouldn't let him quit football either. He has to finish the season. He made a commitment - he needs to honor it.

Tell him if he can't get up in the morning, he'll have to go to bed earlier. Also tell him that rudeness won't be tolerated. He can go to football without being rude and giving you a hard time. If he cannot, after practice, he can spend the rest of his day in his room. No computer, no games, etc.

Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I have two boys (12&10)and a girl (almost 9). Everytime they have asked to join a sports activity they know that there is no quitting allowed!
They have to finish what they start. Now, being truthful here, it will take more of you to take him, that it will take of him going. Be ready to fight him everyday until he realizes that he will not get out of it. Be ready to hear the crying at times of leaving, the fuzzing, the complaining, the madness, etc. I'm serious, you need to be prepared to fight him in an adult way of course; ignoring him at home while he complains about not wanting to go and all the way there and back. It's not easy to put up with that. But my thing is, "I am not taking you out just because you changed your mind about it, or because it's too hard" If I see that there is more to it than what he is saying, such as kids bulling him, or where he can get "purposely" hurt, then I would think about it after addressing the issues of course.
My middle one did Karate for 6 months and then said he wanted to keep on doing it, so I signed him up for another 6 months, and about two weeks into it he said he "changed" his mind, my answer to that was "HECK NOT"!!! So I struggled with him taking him 3 times a week but he finished the 6 months and learned that when you start something you need to finish it. It's a committment and you can not back out of it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Saginaw on

I'm a fan of quitting what isn't working.

How was he supposed to know he wouldn't like the team, the coach or the sport? Now that he knows, why would you torment him (or the team or the coach) for months --because he didn't know or for some other reason?

How is a person supposed to find out if they like or hate something if they can't try it? If it takes a few weeks to find out they hate it, what advantage is there in continuing for 10 more months? Confirmation? Torture? Just because there is no trial period for the team? You can even drop out of college if it's not what you want --with no penalty if you make up your mind early enough.

You can probably get most, if not all, of your money back at this point.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

After 2 weeks? Um, no. He wanted to try this, he has to stick it out for the season. Maybe he'll think twice before he acts on his next whim. Sometime an interest has run it's course, and then it's time to try something else, but that takes longer than 2 weeks. He can do something else next season. I'd ask him why he's changed his mind. What did he think this was going to be like? If the coach is pushing steroids, he'd have a valid reason for wanting to leave. He's only 11 and you are not even into the full teenage years yet. You are both going to have to communicate through all kinds of situations over the next 7 to 10 years. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I think two weeks is a little too soon to quit. I'd have him stick it out for at least a couple of months to see if it gets better. If you can get him to do it through the season, that's even better because it does teach him about commitment to the team, follow-through, etc. Remind him of how much he wanted to play. Get to the root of the problem - what does he REALLY not like about it? Maybe it's something easy to fix by having a quick chat with him or with the coach.

That said, if the reason he is sleeping is because of anxiety or something else related to playing football, then I'd let him quit right away. If it's truly affecting his mental health, it's not worth it and it is worth losing the $300.

K. - connect with other moms - resources, advice, upcoming events and more! free!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

I think your son is wondering what he's gotten into!

All other things being equal (nothing being done at practice that shouldn't be done), he should stay in football simply because he has become a part of the team. Yes, you put out a lot of money for him to be there, but that really doesn't have anything to do with it (and sorry, parenting IS a money-losing proposition if you want to look at it that way!). Anything from sports to music to a new computer looks so easy from the outside but isn't easy when you're actually doing it.

But he needs to stick it out just for the season. Tell him he doesn't have to continue after that - you'll love him just as much if he doesn't wear a football jersey and you'll look forward (sort of) to whatever else he wants to try at school - but he's made a commitment and needs to keep his promise. He probably won't like that, but a number of things *could* happen. If you stay open and friendly toward him, he might just open up about the worries he has. Or something good could happen next week at practice and he could decide he likes football after all. Or he could discover that he likes hearing the clarinets in the marching band and wants to try that after the season is over.

You'll want to separate the football commitment from the attitude - they're two different subjects. Try to stay friendly toward him even if at times he turns into a stone wall. Stone walls - contrary to scientific evidence - can melt in time!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

At 11, he is old enough to have expressed the interest in playing football himself, which he did. So, definitely, I would tell him he is obligated to finish the season he signed up for. And let him know, if he doesn't enjoy it, you will fully support him in not signing up next year. Kids try things out, and sometimes it is not for them. You and your DH have to let go of how much YOU are enjoying the football experience, and accept it if you son does not take to it. Since he's calmed down, tell him it is OK to be frustrated about not liking football, but it is NOT OK to take that out on you by being rude. You can remind him the consequences of bad behavior. I would let the kiss and hug thing go. I think he was angry and frustrated about what is happening with football, and lack of sleep does not help! Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Yes Mom, it sounds like the tween hormones are starting up at your house, with the attitude and mood your son is displaying. I would stand firm and not let him quit this season since he committed to it and a significant amount of money has been invested in playing football. At our house a $300 investment is nothing to take lightly. You and Dad need to sit your son down and have this talk today. This is a very teachable moment and the conversation will help your son realize when you start something, you need to finish it. The lesson of bailing when things aren't as rosey as you would like or don't go exactly as you want is not a good lesson. It is a life lesson he needs to learn and he is at the age that he he can fully understand that being a quitter is not a good thing. Also, I imagine once he gets futher into the season things get better for him. Next summer I would have Dad sit down with him and thouroughtly discuss his participation in the upcoming football season, b4 signing up and paying for another season, but let him make the decision b4 the season starts. I would not tell him this is the plan for next year now. Our example of a similar thing was with our daughter. She had been been in martial arts for 4 yrs around thie age of your boy a goal she had of earning her black belt. She chose this sport on her own. She wanted to quit at about the same age (about 1 yr b4 testing ffor her black belt) We talked about committment with her and giving up when things get tough and did not allow her to quit. She got over her disinterest and acoimplished her goal of earning her black belt and we were all quite proud of her. It was then that she decided to stop martial arts and begin another sport, softball with our OK. She has been playing rec softball ever since and is a very good, but not star player. She really enjoys the sport at this age. We are excited that our daughter is choosing (on her own) to try out for the high school team as a freshman. Tryouts are later this year and we are fully behind her choice. Encouraging participation in team or individual sports are so important to promote with children, tweens. and teens. The health benefits of exercise, knowing that staying out of trouble and good grades need to happen to stay in HS sports is a good lesson to learn, not to mention the camraderie and friendships that develop when playing. Hope this helps Mom and Dad.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Gosh, I guess I'll be the counterpoint on this one. I understand the sticking w/ something when you've made a commitment, but I really, really consider football to be a very dangerous sport. Brain injuries are critical. Seems like I read each year about a child or teen dying from a brain injury after a football hit. Just my opinion.



answers from Reno on

I would say that he needs to finish the year, since he did make a commitment. But, if he hates it, or if he's only doing it because his dad wants him to, next year you should skip it.

The lack of affectionate farewell is understandable when everybody's angry. I would have waited until after practice to deal with it. A simple reminder not to hurt others' feelings should be enough.



answers from San Diego on

Hello, When we were raising our four kids, we had a rule. We would sign them up for any sports as long as they were willing to commit. Once the payment was made, they had to finish their commitment. Also, we never tollerated disrespect. Not listening is disrespectful.
Good luck with your precious son.
K. K.



answers from San Diego on

My son begged and begged to play football. We finally said ok, and forked out the same $300+. My also wanted to quit 2 wks into practice. I simply told him that he wanted to play, we had already paid so he could play, and he was part of the team so he was going to play. He could quit next season but not this one. So he played the season and then quit. My son was 9, so I think your 11 yr old can handle one season.



answers from Los Angeles on

Oh my goodness have we been through this. It is about making a choice and sticking with the decision and following through with that decision. BUT, it is also for the Parents to follow through with their financial commitment too. Your son probably is frustrated because he is in the training phase of football right now and it is very grueling. I bet they haven't started any of their games yet. That will make a big difference. Once he gets to play in a game his attitude will change. This was not an easy commitment for anyone in the family. You all made a huge financial choice and then there is the time issue. You all have to make a complete schedule from morning until night. What time to get up, eat, go to school, do homework, eat, shower and then the most important sleep. Make sure that you have it written down so that there is no question as to when something needs to be done. This is particularly good for you as the mom too to keep your own sanity. Stick to the schedule and tell him to hang in there. Once the weather changes it will also make a difference.



answers from Los Angeles on

This is really a hard line. We have had to draw it and you may have to also. If you are putting in the money, which is usually not refundable, then your child has the right to play, learn and grow. He would be letting down his team, this would also show him when things get tough you keep going, don't give up. Remind him this was something he wanted and he needs to follow through.

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