Dear Mama on the Fence,
I understand your concern. I understand your fear.
It seems like everywhere we turn these days, football is getting a bad rep.
My son "will never play football. No, no." - Justin Timberlake, days before he was set to take the field at halftime of this year’s Super Bowl.
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Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier suffering a spinal injury on national TV.
Maryland state delegate Terri Hill drafting a bill to ban tackle football for children under the age of 14, and similar legislation cropping up in California, Illinois and New York.
I get you.
In fact, I was you.
But that was because I was allowing the thoughts and opinions of others to influence what was ultimately my sports parenting decision.
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What the media doesn't tell you is that almost no sport is free of concussion hazard. Lacrosse, ice hockey, wrestling, and soccer are risky as well.
They don't tell you that most youth football organizations, as well as high school programs, practice Heads Up Football. Fairfax County (Virginia) Public Schools, the 10th largest school district in the country, has reported a 43.3 percent decline in concussions since employing the technique in 2013.
They don't tell you about the health benefits youth football provides, both mental and physical.
They don't tell you about the life lessons it teaches; discipline, work ethic, respect and teamwork, just to name a few.
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They don't tell you about the lifelong memories and friends your child will make.
They don't tell you about the lifelong memories and friends you will make.
They only tell you a fraction of the story. I wanted to share another fraction. It’s the fraction that seems to get lost these days.
I also want to remind you that as with all parenting decisions, the final decision is yours. Only you know what is best for your child.
And football may or may not be it.
And that is ok.
Vanessa Mejia is the mother of three football-playing boys, ages 14, 12 and 9, and lives in northern Virginia. Her boys also play basketball, soccer and track and field. Her husband coaches football in the Fairfax County Youth Football League. She shares Team Mom ideas, tips and tricks along with other facets of her family’s life away from the football field. Read more of her work at https://confessionsofasportsmama.blogspot.com