As summer turns to fall, one major pastime’s season begins; football. Throughout the last sixty plus years, the sport of football has grown to be the United States’ top sport and is now to the point where 110 million people watched the NFL’s Super Bowl this past year. Over the past few years though, the sport of football has been under attack due to some valid concerns. The main concern is lasting injuries sustained from repeated hits to the head, causing the disease known as CTE. Although repeated hits to the head can happen in other activities, football has been the focus of these efforts to bring about awareness. As a result, youth football numbers are decreasing across the country and sports like soccer have been on the rise. Let us be honest, concussions can happen in any sport, such as soccer, and any activity, such as getting into a wreck while driving or riding in a vehicle. Yes, football can hold a larger risk due to the characteristics of the sport; and, I do not just ignore the fact that CTE is an important and dangerous issue. I also know of the other issues that come from playing any active sport throughout any point of your life. I personally still limp every day and am currently planning my fifth knee surgery from a lasting knee injury sustained during my last game of High School football in Pleasant Hill, MO. I also understand there is a high chance, due to my multiple collisions to my head – many of which happened during regular play/chores as a kid and went untreated, that I most certainly may have some form of CTE myself. There is nothing I can do to go back and change these two issues, and will live with these issues my entire life. I will also live every day with the benefits the sport provided my life.
Knowing the increased opportunity to get hurt, understanding the warnings, and listening to individuals who are against it; I still believe the benefit of playing football far outweighs the risk to injury while playing. Today, from the NFL to Peewee football, leagues are taking a more focused look at how to make the sport safe. From safer gear to concussion protocols, football is now safer than it ever was in the history of the game. On top of the game simply being safer, football is more than just getting hit and moving the ball down the field. Football builds an individual’s character, teaches you to be a part of a team, and forces an individual to overcome adversity. The guarantee in football is that you will fail at some point. You will not make a team. You will fumble the ball. You may drop the winning touchdown pass. Your team will lose. In that moment, you are forced to make a choice. You will either allow yourself to fail, or you will seize the opportunity to become better. In that moment, you grow as an individual. You will either grow to become a better person in life or a person who points a finger at others in your own failures.
I will never ridicule an individual who chooses to keep their child out of football because of the injury risk; but do not ridicule me for understanding such risk and still choosing to allow my child to play. I believe the benefits outweigh that risk. My oldest son is currently beginning to learn soccer and may never want to play football; but if he does, I will let him play. I would encourage you to go to https://blogs.usafootball.com/ to read more about the benefits of playing football, ways leagues are making the game safer, and opportunities across the country to allow more people to get involved in football.
I also want to take a second and send the best of luck to the Pleasant Hill High School Rooster Football team this season. The Mayor of Harrisonville, MO and I have made a small wager on our two squads’ game. The Mayor of the losing city must wear the opposing team’s school colors at their following Council meeting. So, be prepared to beat down them Wildcats! GO ROOSTERS!