Dear Football Mom,
My son is in middle school, and wants to play football. He’s been attending some grueling practices that I think are too tough in the first place for his age.
Then, the other day, the coach sent home a booklet full of rules and regulations that I think are also too tough and ridiculous. The coach plans on cutting boys from his team.
I thought no matter the skill set, all kids could play football. I think this is so unfair.
I want to give this coach a piece of my mind. Should I? What is up with cutting players? It’s only middle school!
Oh goodness, I get what you’re saying. You mean it’s come to this, cutting players in middle school, already. Mercy.
Let me stop you right now before you go earsplitting the coach’s head off and maybe come off looking like a boob yourself. Trust me — done it on occasion only to have it backfire. Shuffling through a stadium with mud all over your face is not fun. Humbling, but not fun.
Y’all must be the hottest ticket in town. Your son’s school surely has a large student body, and winning football program. Heck, that’s a lethal combination right there — winning program, plus high student population. With tradition like that, I just bet the sign-up sheet swelled, and coach has no choice but to cut a few players.
Who wants to sign up and play for a team that’s not a winner? That’s a tough act to follow for other schools.
Maybe with the high cost to outfit the 80 or so players (I’m just guessing a number) that went out for the team, it’s just not financially possible or reasonable to keep them all. Or, maybe your coach has a limited number of assistants, and no way is it feasible to handle the multiple number of players.
Maybe some players just can’t cut it, and should be cut. I suppose, bottom line, there is a combination of different reasons and no one knows for sure. But, before marching in to whack his head off, do a little research first.
If you are part of a booster club, talk with other parents, ask questions, and get some facts. I suggest finding out if the issue is money. If it is, then help raise it. And by all means, do not talk to your coach unless you are a booster member or soon to become one.
Booster clubs are made up of mostly parents — they can be the biggest supporters or the hugest headaches for coaches. Be a supporter. Follow coach’s rules regardless of your opinion.
Shucks. Yes, there was a time when the no-cutting rule applied to most all levels of prep football. Any fella could join the team and play for his school, long as he worked hard, didn’t miss practice, kept his grades up, and followed coach’s rules. Might be a bench warmer, but still part of the team. I really, really hate to see it come to this.
Of course, basketball and other sports habitually always cut players. I mean there are only so many that can fit into a gym and line up under a basket.
But football? You’ve got to be kidding.
• • •
Dear Football Mom,
Our son was premature at birth and had undergone several surgeries by the time he was 6 months old. He is now a growing, healthy 10-year-old who is begging us to allow him to play football.
His buddies have played the last few years on Pee Wee teams, and he has wanted to play since they were on a team.
He talks about it every day, all summer long, and seems determined to persuade us to sign him up. We’ve never tried to hold him back, but we have been cautious as to what activities he’s involved in.
It’s not just the concussion issue that bothers me, it’s his entire body that would be in jeopardy. Football worries me more than it does my husband.
I even went so far as to gather the paperwork to sign him up and found that parents have to sign a “not responsible clause for health or injuries.” It even indicates that they are not responsible for death.
We did everything to save his life and though that was 10 years ago, I still can’t bring myself to put him in a dangerous sport like football.
What would you do?
Zowza. This is definitely a conflict. A conflict of emotions, and unquestionably, a tussle within a mother’s heart. Only you know how severe his condition was upon being born. I’d say he’s played several quarters of football already! I gotta tell you, this is a tough one for me.
I’m assuming you have clearance from his doctors and surgeons. More importantly, you know the extent of his health issues today and whether or not he’s in as good of condition as you say. If this is true, ask yourself, why do I wrestle with letting him play?
Of course, I cannot sugarcoat the fact that football is a contact sport. Football is the ultimate contact team sport, but nowadays, techniques have gotten so much better to lower the risk of injury. It’s not like kids are coached to go head to head, helmet to helmet. No, it’s much more sophisticated, even in Pee Wee. Still, there is no guarantee from injuries.
Sounds like your boy has been given the awesome gift of life, peppered with passion for the game.
If he’s been at it all summer trying to talk you into signing him up, he’s no quitter and sure proved that his first few months of life. I can only imagine what suffering and anguish y’all went through to get this child healthy, much less what he went through.
But to answer this question for you would be like me running interference on Mike Ditka.
This may sound brutal, heartless even, but your son can get hurt no matter what activity he’s involved in, and I don’t mean that to sound flippant. It may be time to move on and look to the future instead of stewing over the painful past. I certainly empathize with you.
Did you know there are children with visible disabilities who play football? I’ve had questions in the past from parents with kids who have done absolutely fabulous with their, what I like to call, “special gifts” playing football. They’ve thrived on the field.
If you choose to let your son play, I certainly hope that he, too, will flourish on the field and has a blast while at it.
Maybe you can look at your Pee Wee program with different eyes. If you were running your county football league in this sue-happy world, wouldn’t you want parents to sign a “not responsible for injury” clause? I think signing the papers with that clause is your biggest hurdle. I get it.
Give it one season. Let the kid play. Sign the papers.
Column by Candy A. Westbrook for the Forsyth County News.
Each question is handled with discretion and privacy. Identity of persons asking questions will not be shared. All information is strictly confidential. Questions are not limited to Forsyth County and encompass surrounding areas, including other states. As “The Heart Behind the Gridiron,” we try to answer a variety of questions and scenarios surrounding the game. Answers are opinion-based. We are not responsible for results. All questions should be submitted by email to Candy@candyawestbrook.com.