3 Reasons Why Boys Should NOT Play Football

“Gentlemen, it is better to have died as a small boy than to fumble this football.” – John Heisman

Last week I wrote about the 6 reasons boys should playfootball; however, there are reasons NOT to play football as well.

1. Time Commitment:

 
In my post last week, I listed the heavy time commitment football requires as a positive, but it is a double-edged sword.
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While the time football requires can teach one to work hard and commit to something difficult, it does chew-up a lot of time that could be put elsewhere. There were many times where football interfered with my family’s schedule, and I wasn’t able to be home for dinner. Practices were supposed to go from 3:00pm to 6:00pm during the school year, but sometimes they ran longer, which also disrupted our family.
 
I was also unable to travel with my family during the summer because I had football camps or two-a-day practices. I had to stay behind. Family time and togetherness is something that is very important to my family, and it seemed that football would often interfere with that pursuit.

The great Vince Lombardi once said, Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” I think there is a lot of truth to this statement. We should strive to always win. Even if your team doesn’t end up with the most points at the end, you should always put forth a winning effort. On the other hand, there is a downside to this attitude, and so often football (or other things) get elevated above the more important things in life.

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The time football demands is costly, and before you decide your son will play football, you have to count the cost it may have in disrupting family time.

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2. Violent:

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I also listed the violence of football as a good reason to play. Understandably, the violence can also be a reason not to play. Injuries do happen, and I know quite a few guys who were not allowed to play football because their parents didn’t want them to get injured. I always felt bad for these people, but at the same time, could understand their parents’ concern.
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I played football for 11 years and never got injured…that is…until the next to last game of my senior year in high school where I suffered a career-ending knee injury (Click here to read more about my knee injury. Warning: it is graphic).
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Well, I guess technically that’s not the only injury I had, but it was the only one I suffered during a game. I tore each of my hamstrings at different times as well. I tore one during the summer going into my Junior year, and the other one the spring going into my senior year. Both of those injuries were due to over-training. In addition to all the regular workouts I was doing with the team, I was also working with a personal trainer and speed coach (which required me to put in even more time than most people).
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Football is a dangerous sport. I was fortunate to only be injured once in a game (granted it was a really bad injury which will affect me the rest of my life) but some people are not as fortunate.
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If you’re going to play football, you have to be open to the possibility of getting injured. If you are afraid of getting injured, then you shouldn’t play football.
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3. Negative Environment:

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When I played football, there was a school district policy that required me to attend half a day at the school I wanted to play for to be able to participate. So that’s what I did in middle-school up through high-school. A law was passed my senior year which changed that, so I actually didn’t have to attend any classes at the school that year; however, depending on what state you live in, the laws may be different. You may have to attend a public school to be able to play, and you have to decide whether or not that is worth it.
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Public schools are often environments hostile to the things of God. If you are going to play football, it’s likely that you are going to end up playing for a public or private school team, which are essentially the same. There are some Christian schools you could try and play for, and I know Texas has some homeschool athletic teams, but I don’t know anything about what those would be like.
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If you’re going to play for a public school team, just know the environment in the locker room and around your teammates will very likely be much worse than merely attending a public school. At school, people at least have to act decently—normally. And generally cussing is frowned upon during class, as well as discussing crude topics. In the locker room, people are different. They are themselves.
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Cussing is everywhere, especially the F-word. That word seems to be everyone’s favorite. You’ll hear a lot of very dirty jokes. A lot of guys will frequently talk about their sexual exploits with their girlfriends. And since I was the “uncultured” homeschooler, a couple of the guys felt it was their duty to educate me on the slang terms for different sexual activities, even when I told them I didn’t want to hear, even when I tried to walk away, they just followed me, and when you’re at practice, there really isn’t very far you can go.  I also believe I overheard a conversation between two of my teammates about exchanging drugs, which seems all the more likely since several of my teammates ended up getting suspended later in the year for drug use. All of this and more happened in Dublin, Ohio, which is has one of the best school systems in the country, and is the happiest and 4th safest suburb in the nation. I’m sure worse things probably go on at other schools.
So if you are going to play football—especially for a public school—you have to consider what the environment may be like, and whether or not it’s something your son can handle, or even if he can handle it, whether it’s something he wants to be subjected to. Even though I think I handled the bad environment well, it was exhausting and spiritually, emotionally, and physically draining. I was amazed at how just being around that junk took so much out of me.
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I don’t like talking about the negatives of football. I think it’s such a great sport, and I have so many good memories playing it and I’ve learned so much from it. However, like I said in my senior speech, football is expensive—not so much in terms of money, but in time away from family, the possibility of injury, and the negative environment that so often surrounds it. Also, everyone’s situation will be different. Perhaps you can find a team that is not so negative, or maybe the time commitment is less disruptive. This is why each person and family has to decide for themselves whether or not the cost is worth it.
Hopefully this series helped to shed some light on the positives and negatives of football. If you have any more specific questions, feel free to leave me a comment.

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