My Son Wants to Play football...I Do Not Want Him To. SWH Added

Updated on October 13, 2018
L.U. asks from Kirkland, WA
12 answers

I have a son who is 13. He is 5'7" and 173lbs. He has broad shoulders, he is STRONG, and he has been asking to play football since he was 5.

I have held strong to my belief that football is dangerous and the amount of brain damage that happens to players freaks me out. Not only brain damage, but body damage as well. Broken legs, broken arms, and broken brains make me sure that my "NO!" is a good decision.

However...this child is begging (BEGGING) to be able to play, as a kicker. He has been playing soccer since he was 5 and has a boot! He is fast on the soccer field, agile, and a great all around player. In fact, he plays on one of the top teams in the state for his age group. (also...I understand that soccer players get concussions, but no where NEAR as many. Football has an average of 64-78 a year and boys soccer has about 19)

He tells me that playing as a kicker means that he wont get hit. He assures me that he wont! I am not dumb...kickers get hit. I have seen it. (he insists that those are punters, I am SURE that kickers get hit as well)

I am also worried that if he goes out as a kicker that the coach will see how strong he is and ask him to play on the field as a field player. Which then will result in more begging and me being the mean mom that says no to him playing on the field.

I actually think that he would be a really good football player. But I would be so scared that he would get hurt. We have friends whose kid played and they had to pull their son because he had so many concussions. He was one of the best players in the league, had college ahead of him, and was the quarterback...a guy who shouldn't be hit!

I told him that I would talk about it with my husband...who is on the same page as me...and I decided that I would ask on mamapedia and a moms group on Facebook as well to see what other people have to say.

Any thoughts or opinions? Thanks moms!

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for responding.
The other day I was watching the Seahawks play and a player caught the ball, turned around to run, and got tackled...helmet to helmet. The player went down, body still, arm stiff, and had to be taken off for concussion protocol.
And that's when i made my decision....he is not going to play football.
He plays a team sport(soccer), he gets that life lesson of being on a team, hard work, and dedication.
He could break a leg, an arm, a knee...those things can all be repaired. But you cannot repair your brain.and I just love him too much to let him take that risk. He says that as a kicker you cannot get hit, but that's not can. There's just a big penalty if you hit the kicker! AND..his big, strong, athletic self would get out on the field and the coach would have him play something else, I just know it.
We will suggest flag football and see if he would like to play that.

More Answers



answers from Minneapolis on

I get it. I'm in a somewhat similar position with my 8 yr old wanting to play football. He knows that is a hard line though that I am not going to give in on. I'm not sure where a previous poster got her facts, but every article I read shows football concussions significantly outweigh the number of concussions compared to any other boy sport. Sure there are football players that come out ok, but when you see retired college/pro player after player say they will never let their own kids play, there is something there. I want my son to have fun but I'm not willing to put his brain at risk so no tackle football for him.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

In our house, we have compromised on a middle ground of flag football. They still learn about the game - running plays, different positions, etc. Do you have this option?

I agree with you that once your child tries out for (and presumably makes) the team, neither you or your son will have any control over what position he plays. That's a coach's decision.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

He's right that kickers hardly ever get hit. That's probably more true in the pros, when kickers get the extra point kick in the air fast, and defenders are more likely to try to block the ball and also restrain themselves if the ball is already airborne. High school players may not be as skilled or able to restrain themselves from late hits. Kickoff kickers are somewhat safe as well, although they are expected to run down the field after the kick. Rarely are they the ones likely to be tackling the receiver who tries to run back the ball. So soccer, like hockey and lacrosse, is probably far more dangerous than being a kicker.

Still, you're the parents. High schools are less likely to have high tech, expensive helmets than the big football powerhouse college teams and certainly the pro teams.

One thing to look at is what he may decide when he's out of your home. While it's unlikely that many college teams would pick up someone with zero experience, it's not impossible. Is he more likely to defy you then because he's so angry? What about other decisions where you want him to take your guidance and warnings seriously? That's not to say you should change your mind - just that you and your husband should talk this through. No easy answers.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I wish I had a good answer for you. Our son played football from 5th grade until he graduated (he played soccer from 2nd to 4th grade but we moved and only football was available). We were lucky - no head hits/concussions, but he did break his elbow one year, that then froze up PLUS he was growing so concerns about that arm not growing correctly because of spending so long in a cast was a big issue, then 3 months of physical therapy after months in a cast . . . He still brought our team to state on 3 occasions and we won State one year (which for our school size is amazing).

I know that sports kept him centered and out of trouble. Threatening to take football (or wrestling or track) away if he didn't keep his grade up was a real threat to him and about the only thing that worked. He played varsity from a young age, so losing his place on the team really was a fear for him.

We knew the risks - well, not as much as we do now, but we still knew them. But we also knew the risks of a kid who needed a ton of structure, a physical outlet, and a reason to make school a priority.

I guess if I was heck-bent on my kid not playing, but my kid was, I'd really think about switching him to a school were soccer was the only option. Many private and smaller schools only offer soccer.

Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

i worked with someone who played football through college.
He wouldn't let his son play at all - not even touch football.
He didn't even keep a football in the house to toss around.

There will be risks with any sport but any game where 6 guys weighing 300lbs can land on top of you (I've seen the guys on the high school teams - they are HUGE) just isn't a healthy sport.

You and your husband will need to present a united front and both tell him 'No football'.
He won't like it but don't allow pouting over it for too long.
Sign him up for taekwondo or something else that will keep him running around.
He can try a different sport every year if he wants - just no football.

In every school our son attended coaches were after him (and us) to join the team.
We'd tell them "No, not going to happen.".
Our son really likes taekwondo and has kept with it even into college.

You absolutely have power over this.
These sports cost money - don't pay for it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

I agree with you football is dangerous. My grandson (10) plays and it scares me. He is smart and handsome and a sweetheart. It concerns me that he will end up with a serious injury. But my daughter (his mom) loves the sport and he loves playing so this grandma stays out of it.
The only good thing about it is he is off the couch and not binge watching cartoons or playing video games all day.

I would try a compromise, look for a tag or flag football league. No tackling in these games.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Every sport my kids have fallen in love with has the risk of head injury - mixed martial arts for my daughter and hockey, lacrosse, football, mountain bike racing and skiing for my sons. They're just built for the joy of speed and contact. One of my sons has had four concussions - two from accidents in PE class, and two from hockey. One of my other sons had two concussions, also from hockey, and both as a fairly young player from taking hard falls, not from hits. These two have had no bodily injuries, and the other two haven't had injuries at all beyond bumps and bruises. They have had way fewer accidents than my friends' kids who play "safe" sports like soccer and baseball and track...I have friends whose kids have had torn ACLs, dislocated knees and shoulders, back injuries, head injuries, broken limbs, surgeries, weeks of missed school, months of physical therapy. Yet they think I'm crazy for letting my kids play contact sports.

When my football player played Pop Warner football, the league used to post the injury rate as there is a big focus on reducing injury, especially head injury, at this age. They took pride in the fact that there had been no concussions in our town's league in over a year (this was a couple of years ago). The school's rate of injury at recess and PE was higher than that.

I guess I got over the fear of injury 10 years ago when I saw my oldest son fall completely in love with a sport that I loathed and said my kids would never play (hockey). Yeah, he's been injured but the sport has brought far more good than harm to him and our family, and he received just as many injuries just participating in PE at school. And it was hard to look at my smart, beautiful, petite daughter and realize that her idea of a good time was getting into a ring where the point was to punch and kick in the face and body, but again, it was something she really loved. The cuts and bruises and overworked muscles healed but the thrill of challenging herself, beating someone bigger than her and the confidence of knowing she can kick anyone's butt has stayed with her for years.

It's important to teach our kids to use sensible precautions and be as safe as possible when doing a higher-risk activity, but I wouldn't deny my kids the chance to do something they love. At the end of the day, it's up to what you and your husband can live with. We took the chance on these sports and, knock on wood, so far my kids are OK. The vast majority of kids who play contact sports are just fine and that's enough for me, but if it's not for you, then hold the line.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

ETA: I read through the responses, and think everyone had good things to add. Ultimately you have to be comfortable as a parent with the level or risk you want to assume. This was a good article in Time - if it helps.

Our kids played sports - primarily hockey, soccer and basketball. As I mentioned, we've seen kids injured. The thing with football is - it's the amount of head rattling (thumps) that goes on when they are young, and they have proven that head thumps are what cause the damage - it doesn't have to be a conclusion. Granted, they are studying ex pro athletes in a lot of these studies, but they're extending it now to kids who play at school levels. I think it's best to just keep informed, keep perspective, and it's good to talk to your kid's doctor and get their take on it. They have to stay informed - they read the journals. They see the concussions and injuries firsthand.

I agree you can't bubble wrap kids and a lot of times my kids have had bumps, cuts, and hospital visits just by flukes. But the thumping and jostling of brains - from tackles and such ... it's like competitive hockey (slamming into boards) - we said no. That's just a personal decision.


I have seen the shows (documentaries, 60 minutes, PBS shows, etc.) on it about brain damage.

My husband has had 2 concussions. He has migraines regularly and it has also altered his personality somewhat (after the 2nd one). That is what concerns me the most. The doctors have said if he is to recover somewhat, he'd have to rest in a dark, quiet room for at least a month. There's no way we can make that happen at present so he just suffers through it.

We've known kids to have concussions in hockey - and that's just at the recreational level. Unfortunately, it does seem like it's the same kids over and over - typically, the smaller ones. They also have had the broken bones (the kids we know).

It can happen to anyone - a friend of mine slipped on ice, had a concussion and now has bad vertigo.

Personally, I think if you can avoid a situation where you know there's a high chance, it makes sense to not participate. However ... I haven't been in your spot ... I know it's hard to talk a kid out of something they're mad about.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Momma - you make it sound like there is a broken bone at every game and some sort of concussion or brain injury at EVERY turn.

STOP. Breathe.

My son is a goalie for soccer. SO far - he's had THREE concussions and been kicked in the stomach THREE TIMES!!! But he still plays.

STOP. Let him do this. There are so many safety measures in place. Our school has them take an MRI before the season and after the season. They are on top of it.



answers from New York on

I would not encourage a son to play football but if he falls this strongly, I think it is his decision. The joy of big games, a sense of structure, learning teemwork, should be measured against the risks.



answers from Amarillo on

We all have that fear, however, we do have to let our children experience life. My son played football from the time he was 8 to 17 (graduated high school). When he first started, the group that ran the program made sure that the boys knew how to fall and duck to protect themselves from harm. Yes, he did have a broken toe in a cast for 8 weeks. A dislocated thumb and a few concussions. All part of the sport.

Let him play the sport. He might find out that during his playing that this is not the sport for him.

We can't push our fears off on our children. Give him your blessing and let him experience the thrill and the bumps.

the other S.



answers from San Diego on

I can see your concerns about mild traumatic brain injury and concussions.
My son is 12 and I was hesitant to allow him to play, however I let him.
The school does not use the head butting tactics but new tack downs.

Being in a sport and on a team are invaluable.

My first concussion I got from opening a wine bottle.

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