Our kids play football because they love it. And because they love it, telling them they have to miss practice as a consequence or punishment would probably work great.
However, is it fair? I say “no.” I do so for two reasons – the first is related to this pandemic, the second has always been my stance on the issue.
During this pandemic, for many of our kids, football might be the only socialization they have right now. If they are going to school virtually, they see classmates’ faces, but they aren’t really socializing like they would if they were in the building. Their living situation might afford them to have social opportunities, but it may not. And you’ll never convince me that social media or texting is the same as seeing and interacting with friends face to face.
My ongoing stance on this issue is that your child missing football can impact their team’s preparation during practice and eventually their performance at a game, and that’s just not fair to their coaches or teammates. A player makes a commitment to be part of the team much like if they have a part-time job and are part of a staff. They are expected to only be absent if sick, injured, have a family emergency or other extenuating circumstances. Not doing homework or chores, or misbehaving at school or at home, does not fall into any of those categories.
The reality is that although taking football away might distress your child and therefore get them to stop – or in the case of not completing homework, start – whatever it is they are being punished for, you might inadvertently be causing more damage than you realize by taking away the social part of their life or affecting team chemistry.
Instead, try coming up with a consequence that works but doesn’t impact their mental and social well-being or the performance of their team.
As much as many of us adults hate our kids having cell phones, it is the one thing that seems to be a “No, don’t take that away!” for everyone. Using the phone as a consequence eliminates texting – “You expect me to ride my bike across the neighborhood to see if Joey can play?” – as well as watching Netflix or YouTube and following social media.
Obviously, there are other suggestions. Just keep in mind that what might be viewed as a punishment for one of your kids, might not be for the other.
However, back to my original stance on using football as a consequence – it punishes more people than just your child, and that’s just not fair.
Stay safe and healthy.
Jon Buzby has been involved in and writing about youth sports for the past 30 years with perspectives as a parent, coach and board member. Jon is an award-winning writer and his latest book, “Coaching Kids Made Easier,” is available on Amazon. Send comments or future blog topics you'd like to see to JonBuzby@hotmail.com and follow him @YouthSportsBuzz on Twitter.