Why do people still ask me the same question and make the same statement?
“You let your son play football?” a coworker asked.
“Aren’t you worried about him getting hurt?”
These are questions I get over and over and over again from friends and family.
The answers to those questions are “yes” and “yes.”
My son Bradley loves football, and my wife and I enjoy watching him play because it makes him happy. As far injuries are concerned, there are risks you encounter with so many things each and every day.
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Back in November 2013, I wrote a blog for WFAN.com in New York that was later picked by USA Football titled, “Yes, our son plays youth football.”
To this date, it’s one of the most popular stories I’ve ever written in terms of the response from friends, other parents and colleagues in sports media. There are still so many people who are shocked that my wife and I allow our son to play football.
It happened once when we were at a party. Someone asked me what sports Bradley and Jared are playing, and I said Bradley is getting ready for baseball season and Jared is continuing with soccer. And then I added that Bradley will play street hockey over the summer and football in the fall.
“Football?” the guy said. “Ooh football. You let him play?”
And I know why people ask me this question all the time. I anchor sports updates on a national radio network, and there aren’t many days or nights that go by where I don’t give news of an injury in any sport.
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And during football season?
Anytime I mention the word “concussion” or “ACL,” I always say to myself that someone is going to ask me that question again. I also know if it’s a big enough story, someone is going to ask my wife the questions the next day at work.
We both know the questions are coming. It’s inevitable. I’ll admit it. My mother can’t handle the fact that Bradley plays football. When she visits New York and comes to a game, she has a hard time watching.
The fact that I get the questions from my colleagues in the media is actually quite amusing. I find it amazing that these people will watch football every weekend, report on football every weekend and some of them even gamble on football every weekend. Then, these same people question my wife and I or other parents as to why they let their kids play football.
So what they’re saying is it’s OK to watch the sport and make a career out of it, but I shouldn’t let my kid play?
It’s so hypocritical, and I just don’t understand it. Yes, I know there have been and will always be injuries, and in some cases they are serious. But I’ll tell you this: My son knows more kids who have suffered significant injuries in bounce houses, household accidents and playground mishaps than kids who were seriously hurt playing football.
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Are there bumps and bruises throughout the course of a season? Yes, absolutely.
But injuries like those occur everywhere. And that encompasses all sports, including baseball. One spring, the starting pitcher on Bradley’s team couldn’t play in the championship game because he sliced his hand trying to open a can of dog food.
Football is ridiculously popular in our country these days. There are people who spend all day Saturday watching college football, and those who spend all day Sunday watching the NFL. And let’s not forget the NFL and college games during the week on Mondays and Thursdays.
At the same time, there are kids who are playing the sport from coast to coast, from the pee wee ranks to high school. How could my wife and I tell our son that he shouldn’t play and then sit in front of the TV on Sundays and cheer on the New York Jets defense to sack the other team’s quarterback?
When my son tells my wife and me that he doesn’t want to play anymore, that'll be when he puts the football down. Bradley watches the news and he watches SportsCenter. He knows there are injuries, but he also knows you can’t be afraid of getting hurt.
Yes, our son plays football, and we have no problem with that.
Peter Schwartz is a sports anchor for the CBS Sports Radio Network, FOX News Headlines 24/7 and WCBS 880 Radio in New York. His older son Bradley plays youth tackle football for the Super Bowl Champion East Meadow Rams on Long Island, while his younger son Jared plays flag football for the LSW Giants. Peter, his wife Sheryl and the boys are busy cheering on the New York Jets when they’re not at a youth football field.
This is an updated version of a blog that originally published March 15, 2016.