Saturday, May 12, 2012
ChatWrap follow: The benefits of risk
By Kevin Seifert
As I suspected, you offered up a number of intelligent and well-articulated responses to a topic that has already gotten a fair amount of discussion both on this blog and nationally. But while discussing whether you would allow your son to play football, your responses brought the conversation to a new ground. Namely: the context of the discussion must be narrowed.
For the vast majority of us, the question isn't whether you would let your son embark on a 25-year run of playing football, thereby subjecting him to the long-term effects of countless blows to the head over an extended period of time. In reality, it's whether you would let him play at the youth or high school level for a few years.
Statistically speaking, most high school players don't play in college and most college players don't play professionally. We might be getting ahead of ourselves by making parental decisions based on a fear of the brain damage and eventual suicides of, say, former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson or Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Andre Waters.
With that, let's run through some of the responses that stood out to me. Thanks for your insight and, of course, have an outstanding spring weekend.
What gets lost in a lot of this is that these are decisions parents make every day about other things that are much more dangerous without nearly as much drama over them. More kids are hurt driving than any other endeavor I can think of. Parents might rue the day when their child starts to drive, and they might be worried sick every time they go out on the roads, but still the child is allowed to get a drivers license when the time comes in almost all cases. We "take chances" every day with little things -- cell phones can be a distraction, swimming pools, alcohol, driving, speeding, etc -- but we can't limit kids chances of being hurt at every step in life. At some point, never "taking the chance" or the "risk" becomes more of a problem than a benefit.
I had a concussion in a bike accident before I got in to high school. My doctor did not want me to play football in high school. I convinced my parents to allow me. I know I had several more in high school football. Sometimes I would get my bell rung, and I remember thinking I hope the other team does not throw my way for a while because I didn't remember my assignments. I did not tell anyone when they happened. That being said, with everything we know now, versus then, I would do it all over again. I loved football that much. I can't say if any of these hits have caused any long term effects.
I too played football all through high school and loved it dearly. It did wonders for me. I have a son now and I have no idea if he will want to play or not. One thing that he will have that I never did is the knowledge before hand of how damaging the game can be. I never thought I was going to get seriously hurt. Concussions were referred to having your bell rung. I think kids who live in areas that push football will have a harder time than my son. I don't live in the deep south. The west coast likes its sports but he's more likely to want to snowboard or mountain bike than play football
I think we're all jumping to the conclusion that these suicides are a direct result of brain damage. The scientific proof is just not there yet, and may never be. There are studies being conducted but no definite answers. I disagree with old players suing the league, I disagree that concussions are going to be the end of the sport, and MILLIONS of people, including myself, are just fine after playing 8 years of football.
I have a son and won't let him play football until 8th grade simply due to the physical toll it will take on his body. There are other sports for young kids, soccer, baseball, basketball, etc, etc, etc....
Correct me if I'm wrong...School buses don't even have seat belts and parents don't seem to have a problem with that. Danger lurks everywhere, don't live life scared.
Being able to do anything you LOVE to do is one of life's treasures. We face risks everyday whether we choose to step onto a football field, strap into a snowboard or walk to the grocery store. The chances for concussions, brain injuries or worse are exponentially higher for players in any contact sport but consider the fact that they each face potentially life-threatening circumstances in whatever mode of transportation they use just getting to the practice field. I have had the pleasure of getting to do what I love to do almost my whole life and I wish everyone could have that experience. Sure drumming and football are vastly different, but my body has certainly paid the price over the years.