Do Obama, Seau, mounting stats influence your opinion: Would you still let your son play football?

Four years ago my husband and I had our first discussion about our son playing football. We had been to the fields near our house in Gwinnett and watched the little fellows playing ball. I couldn’t believe how hard they were hitting. I walked away knowing I didn’t want my son playing.

Four years ago, it was just a feeling in my heart but as the years have passed there are more and more statistics to back up that mother’s instinct. (Luckily, our son has no interest at this point in football. He does like basketball, which I am cool with because there is far less contact.)

Earlier this week President Obama sparked some pre-Super Bowl heat with a similar comment.

From AP:

“I’m a big football fan, but I have to tell you, if I had a son, I’d have to think long and hard before I let him play football,” Obama said.

“I think that those of us who love the sport are going to have to wrestle with the fact that it will probably change gradually to try to reduce some of the violence,” he added. “In some cases, that may make it a little bit less exciting, but it will be a whole lot better for the players, and those of us who are fans maybe won’t have to examine our consciences quite as much.”

“In an interview in the magazine’s Feb. 11 issue, Obama said he worries more about college players than he does about those in the NFL.

“The NFL players have a union, they’re grown men, they can make some of these decisions on their own, and most of them are well-compensated for the violence they do to their bodies,” Obama said. “You read some of these stories about college players who undergo some of these same problems with concussions and so forth and then have nothing to fall back on. That’s something that I’d like to see the NCAA think about.”

Players weighed in with reaction. From AP:

Ravens safety Ed Reed, for one, agreed with the sentiment.

“I am with Obama,” Reed said. “I have a son. I am not forcing football on my son. If he wants to play it … I can’t make decisions for him. All I can do is say, ‘Son, I played it so you don’t have to.’”

Reed, a nine-time Pro Bowl selection in his 11 NFL seasons, thinks there needs to be improvements within the league.

“We’ve got some leaks in it that need to be worked out,” Reed said. “Every medical training room should be upgraded; training rooms can be a lot better.”

And as he noted: “When you’ve got the president talking about it, you got something.”

From AP:

“NFL spokesman Greg Aiello responded Sunday, “We have no higher priority than player health and safety at all levels of the game.’ ”

According to The New York Times the NFL is facing lawsuits from thousands of former players who say the league withheld information on the harmful effects of concussions.

And we keep hearing about players such as Junior Seau and Ray Easterling who killed themselves and were found to have chronic traumatic ecephalopathy, or CTE, a degenerative brain disease often linked to repeated blows to the head.

As a  blog community we have talked about whether we would let our kids play football several times throughout the years, and as recently as last May when Steve Hummer wrote a great Sunday piece looking at the issue, including some incredible stats.

From Steve Hummer’s story:

“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are more than 55,000 cases of traumatic brain injury — concussions mostly — per year throughout all of high school football. More awareness has meant more reporting of concussions, and the growing numbers have prompted the CDC to declare sports-related traumatic brain injuries an epidemic.”

“Facts sometimes fail parents who are looking for a definitive to-play-or-not-to-play solution. Any long-term damage done by playing football has not been quantified.” “In fact, the CDC’s Institute for Occupational Safety and Health just released a records-based study of more than 3,400 NFL players who were in the league for at least five years between 1959-1988 and found that they had a lower death rate than the general population. That included death by heart disease, cancer and, yes, suicide. The Institute plans to similarly study the incidence of early Alzheimer’s and other cognitive issues.”

“Dr. Steve Kroll of Georgia Sports Medicine estimates that he has seen more than 1,000 concussion cases in the past two years. Maybe 20 percent of those involve football. Other sources may surprise you.”

“One in particular is cheerleading,” he said. “They don’t have pads. They don’t have helmets. And they actually suffer quite a few concussions.”

Teen concussions up 200 percent from Aug. 201

Aug. 2009 – trying to decide about an activity for our son – Dad of course wanted tackle football for my 6-year-old – not happening.

So do 3,000 former NFL players’ families suing the NFL sway you? Do Seau and Easterling killing themselves and having brain damage sway you? Does knowing that teen concussions are up 200 percent make you think maybe I don’t want my child playing football or at the very least some changes need to be made to the sport?  Does knowing the president would have to think twice before letting a son play football change your opinion?

Would you still let your son (or daughter) play football?

128 comments Add your comment

I dropped my fried twinkie

February 1st, 2013
4:11 am

Lady your boy can be what ever he wants but he will be a wimp if he NEVER tries do something that is dangerous and risky to his health. MEN/ BOYS take risk and do risky things. We thrive on the dangerous and deadly. Protect your boy all you want but when he gets his ass beat or gets bullied for being a puZZy in school don’t blame the other boys for picking on your kid cause your boy is a chicken.

I dropped my fried twinkie

February 1st, 2013
4:14 am

Your son is WHITE. He has very little future in Basketball either. Get him some Golf Clubs a baseball glove or a tennis racket. Why don’t you get him in Boy Scouts?

Mr. Obvious

February 1st, 2013
5:52 am

I typically find it is in the best interest of my nation, my family and myself to do THE OPPOSITE of whatever The JiveTalker-in-Chief reads off his teleprompter.

Go, Falcons.

A Realist

February 1st, 2013
6:41 am

And thus to piggyback off yesterday’s topic …the pussification of American men continues

JF McNamara

February 1st, 2013
7:08 am

I’m definitely having second thoughts. My kid is smart, and I don’t want to risk his future over a game even if its a very remote possibility.

For those who are so adamantly for football, would you also push your son to become a boxer? You get hit until you get concussed enough to pass out. That’s pretty manly.

I would ban “I dropped my fried twinkie”.

Sobelle

February 1st, 2013
7:21 am

Think of the Gladiators who fought men and animals in an arena so the people could cheer the “sport” and how they loved it. Football was a part of my son’s life from little league through junior varsity before he finally decided to quit. He was good and could have gone on to win a scholarship. I remember something Fran Tarkanton said, “Don’t push your kids into football, let them make up their own mind. Let them start playing in high school and not before.” So I never pushed him and now I’m glad.

dcb

February 1st, 2013
7:22 am

Yes, I would have no problem in having my sons or grandsons play football in this day and age even though I suffered a head injury during my playing days. And no, Obama’s comments and Seau’s situation have not impacted my reasoning – especially Obama’s opinion. I would worry about injuries, though, and if I had my choice and the talent and interest was there, I would much prefer to watch my kin both male and female play golf, basketball, and baseball during their formative and then high school and college years. Which is somewhat contradictory in itself because my two favorite sports to watch on tv are both college and pro football, and pro hockey.

Sk8ing Momma

February 1st, 2013
7:32 am

I think football is like smoking. What was once acceptable is becoming less so as the dangers and health risks are revealed/discovered. On that note, my 11yo so played tackle football in a VERY competitive league (go figure!) for 2 years when he was 8 and 9. He had a great time, learned lots and was in GREAT physical shape.

It was not something that I was in favor of initially; but, I grew to accept it. In hindsight, I’m happy he had the experience and “got the desire to play football” out of his system. Now that he’s older and more information has been disclosed regarding concussions and the inherent dangers associated with football, I would DEFINITELY put my foot down and prohibit him from playing. Thankfully, he’s moved on to travel team soccer. He’s the goal keeper — the only one who wears a helmet. :)

Jeff

February 1st, 2013
7:34 am

You know, to play devil’s advocate (in a round about way), why then are some of these same people trotting out the “you go girl” card and cheerleading squad when a female even tries out for football?

I don’t think it’s as big of a charade on this blog, but in the broader public arena it’s blatant.

barry obama is a sissy

February 1st, 2013
7:45 am

Who gives a flying fornication what urkle Obama thinks. I’m sure he wouldn’t let his little trayvon play football, not when he could slip on his hoodie and go be a little thug, but then that is the sport of choice in that armpit of a city that urkle’s boyfriend raum emmanuel runs isn’t it.

Jessica

February 1st, 2013
7:59 am

The possibility of brain damage is enough to make me encourage my son to choose some other sport; my son’s long-term future is more important than any game, even football.
On the other hand, I am in no way swayed by what President Obama thinks, especially since his so-called leadership is robbing our kids of future prosperity and security. Who is he to lecture us about our kids when he is merrily piling more and more debt on their shoulders?

Big Mama

February 1st, 2013
8:10 am

My goodness! So much hate so early in the morning! Thankfully, this has not become an issue in my home as my son has not expressed an interest in football. He participates in several activities and enjoys them and has many other interests that fill his time. We would have to discuss the potential consequences of football should he ask to play in the future. I encourage both of my children (boy and girl) to take risks and try new things. I allow them to do things that probably horrify some parents (sure, go climb that… Jump over it if you want to…). But the longterm consequences of football are too much…head injuries seem to be a large part of the game and I don’t want my son’s brain scrambled.

FCM

February 1st, 2013
8:16 am

No President Obama’s opinion of football does not influence. Neither will a number of others. If I had a son who wanted to play, I would work with him to get so he is the toughest one out there. The football my children know have all been in exercise programs and drinking protein shakes.

I do wonder though the article said One in particular is cheerleading,” he said. “They don’t have pads. They don’t have helmets. And they actually suffer quite a few concussions

Are you letting Rose and Lily do cheerleading if they want?

alex

February 1st, 2013
8:27 am

To directly answer: yes, if he wanted to and Glad he doesn’t want to. Do law suits sway me, are you kidding ? Peolple get sued over hot coffee or 11.5 inch subs,goodness. No the Prez does not sway me, he was not elected to be a sports monitor.

FCM

February 1st, 2013
8:45 am

The more I think about it, the madder I am that Obama choose to speak on football. Could he stop trying to interfer in things like sports and actually work on something important like the fact he has nearly DOUBLED spending since he took over from Bush.

President Obama, you spent the last 4 years telling us it was Bush. Well, who you blaming now? (I blame the voters that elected Obama).

MamaS

February 1st, 2013
8:47 am

I said NO to football before my boy was old enough to even ask. It is not up for discussion. Many of my relatives criticize me and say he will be “wimpy” because he doesn’t play. I don’t care — he will be a wimp with all his brains and not a para- or quadriplegic. He will also have a black belt in karate. that he earned himself. That is more “manliness” than most boys have.

motherjanegoose

February 1st, 2013
8:57 am

TWG…is football big in Arizona? I did not get that impression, whenever I visited. it probably will not be an issue for you unless you move back to GA.

My son did not play football. He played just about every other sport.. He is tall and that helped for basketball. He was a pretty good goalie in soccer.

I am not a football person. I have a friend on Facebook, who I went to HS with 35 years ago. He just posted that he may be the only one who does not know who is playing in the Super Bowl. I laughed at the comment.

My husband and son love sports as far as fans. I was at UGA yesterday with my daughter. I have never been to a football game there and do not care if I ever go. I have been to a basketball game and would go again. We went to the art museum and that was interesting. We passed the stadium and I commented that perhaps my son will be able to afford season tickets now when he starts his career this summer. He also loves baseball and the Braves games. It will be interesting to see which sport he chooses,maybe both!

I ditto that not much Obama does, with his family, would ever impact my family. I do not see him as a role model.

motherjanegoose

February 1st, 2013
9:00 am

For the record…I do not care if I ever go to Disneyworld again either. If you offered me 3 days for free, I would pass. I do not like to be in random crowds of thousands of people. That is just me. Three days at the beach with a good book is more my style :).

A

February 1st, 2013
9:26 am

I have a problem with kids playing tackle starting at age 6. Thankfully, my child prefers baseball and is good at it. Not that there aren’t injuries in baseball, but at least it’s never caused by another player ramming their helmeted heads into you.

yuki

February 1st, 2013
9:32 am

My almost 5 year old seems to enjoy soccer and he will be playing in the spring. I’m kind of hoping he goes to soccer and baseball as opposed to football because it does worry me a bit. Would I forbid him to play if he really wanted to? Most likely not but I would be concerned to say the least.

And no, Obama’s words/opinions have NO influence on me whatsoever. You have got to be kidding.

Peacefulli

February 1st, 2013
9:39 am

I have two sons that play football in high school. We did not allow the older two boys to play sports until they were 11. They like playing football. I know injuries are possible and do have some concern. But, I’m not that concerned. I will let them decide how long they want to play.

My children have control of their lives for the most part.

bo

February 1st, 2013
9:48 am

DCB writes, “I would have no problem in having my sons or grandsons play football in this day and age even though I suffered a head injury during my playing days….I would worry about injuries, though, and if I had my choice and the talent and interest was there, I would much prefer to watch my kin both male and female play golf, basketball, and baseball…”

You would have “no problem” with football but you would worry about injuries (having suffered a head injury yourself playing football) and prefer they play something else? Sounds like you would actually have a lot of problems with it (rightfully so). Why such a contradictory statment?

resno2

February 1st, 2013
9:52 am

“When you’ve got the president talking about it, you got something.”

Oh Please!!! Obama is no more an expert on football than he is on getting a budget passed. Just because Obama says so doesn’t make it true… lord help us if we ever get to that point.

Beefcake

February 1st, 2013
9:55 am

Little Barry has no influence on me at all. In fact he if were to say something I’d probabobableesch do the opposite…it’s nirvana in the
Nobama Zone!

(the other) Rodney

February 1st, 2013
9:59 am

I only have this to add – if your idea of manliness relies on, even in part, playing football, well … someone needs to fast forward from the 1950s and join the rest of us in 2013.

Don’t get me wrong – I have absolutely no issue with football – I quite enjoy it. But it is in no way a measure of manliness, nor is it a preventer of wimpiness. My father never played a day of football in his life and he’s one of the most macho (to a fault, sometimes) men I ever met.

Of course, I might question the manliness of someone who dresses up with the name and number of a 20 year old college guy on his back, and whose mood every Saturday in the fall is dependent on whether or not a bunch of 20 year old boys win a game. :)

Techmom

February 1st, 2013
10:48 am

My son has played all kinds of sports since he was 4 and tackle football starting at age 6. We always encouraged him to try new things and try to find something he really liked but regardless, he was going to stay involved in something – no sitting around. His only injuries have been bumps or bruises here and there. The only time he’s ever needed medical attention was when he fell off his skateboard and busted his chin open (helmets don’t protect against that). My point is that not every kid is going to get hurt playing youth sports or even football if they are taught correctly how to tackle and block. I do know plenty of kids who’ve had surgery from other sports though (especially knee surgery from basketball and elbow and shoulder injuries from baseball and softball). Honestly, I think wrestling is the worst- no pads or helmet; just headgear to protect the ears.

I come from a big “football” family and my husband referees football from rec to high school. Starting last year, the referees for high school (GHSA) are now allowed to bench a player if they think a concussion has occurred. My husband isn’t so keen on the idea as he thinks that’s the coach and trainer’s responsibilities but it’s really just one more level of a safety net to ensure a kid’s health isn’t compromised.

That being said, the two issues I see with football are 1) coaches who aren’t trained properly since most of the youth leagues are dads who volunteer and who aren’t required to take on-going training so they can teach the kids how to play safely and 2) over zealous parents & coaches who push their kids to be too aggressive and continue to play when they are already hurt.

Angry Much

February 1st, 2013
10:49 am

Wow gotta say that most of the post are about personal hate of the president and not the topic. I really can’t muster up that kind of hate for a stranger. Has the president done things I don’t agree with..yes. So have past presidents and I am sure futer presidents will. I don’t know if it is a race things or a political party thing, but you people need to get some perspective. It makes you look unstable to go foaming at the mouth crazy at the mention of someone.

As for football, If I had a son I would have to think about it. If he really wanted to play I would make sure we were well informed about it. and take as many precautions as possible.

Techmom

February 1st, 2013
10:50 am

By the way, what do parents think about flag football vs. tackle? I’ve already seen a rise in participation in the flag league near us and think it’s a great alternative for young kids.

LivininATL

February 1st, 2013
10:50 am

I think it is best to do your research and make up your own mind instead of relying on others.

We have one son that plays football, it will pay for his Ivy League education and another that gave it up to focus on other sports. Injuries are a concern, but he loves playing the game, and there are risks associated with everything we do. On the other hand, we have friends that played college and pro and it is painful for me to watch them move.

resno2

February 1st, 2013
10:57 am

Angry Much, obama’s attempt to inject himself into the everyday lives of regular Americans, buy trying to make himself appear as one of ‘us’. He never has been nor will he ever be a ‘regular American’. He needs to stop trying to be our friend, and concentrate on being our leader. His statement about football was as misguided as his saying if he had a son he’d look like Treyvon Martin.

catlady

February 1st, 2013
11:18 am

My son would not have been a good candidate for football, because of his TBI. Instead, he played baseball! And guess which position? Catcher!

I was glad when he joined up with the band and theater groups.

motherjanegoose

February 1st, 2013
11:23 am

@Livin…Kudos to your son! I ran into a former student of mine, from Kindergarten. She told me of another student ( of mine) who went to Harvard on a Football Scholarship. I thought that was really super! I looked it up and found his name too!

I did not think I was angry today. I simply do not admire a President who thinks we should share everything we have, by force, with those who would like to have what we have. There is a reason people have more than others. When I meet someone on Delta who is a Platinum or Diamond Medallion, I say to myself, “that person lives in the air.” I am not jealous that they have more privileges than I do. They are working their fannies off and so they should get ahead of me in line. Some people say, “Must be nice to have all those Skymiles and FREE tickets!” Really? THEY WORKED FOR IT!

I am also all about sharing, when it is my choice and not forced.

I am a white woman and I would have voted for Herman Cain in a minute. It is not about race, to me. It is about not trusting Obama’s motives.

truthyness

February 1st, 2013
11:34 am

Enter your comments here

Brown Eyed Girl!

February 1st, 2013
11:34 am

Fortunately, neither of my boys have expressed any interest in playing football. They like watching sports. I think their favorites are baseball (because of me) and basketball (because of my husband). Currently, they both are active karate students. If they said they wanted to play, I would have to think about it, but mostly, I would want them to get educated on the sport first. I would want them to have the best quality of life after they are done.

People need to understand one thing. The president, as with many other people in this country, is interviewed about a variety of things. Often questions are asked of him about things that do relate to the average citizen. When that happens, he responds. If he was the average joe, noone would ask nor publish what he has to say. But he is the president…as was Bush as was Clinton as was Reagan (also an actor). He does not seek out the press so he can make comments about thing, they ask him! If you don’t like what he says, don’t listen! If it doesn’t affect your world, move along! No matter what your political affiliation is, we should be tired of all these silly quips, but most of all, we should be grown ups!

Richard

February 1st, 2013
11:38 am

I have serious concerns about the intelligence of people claiming that they are just now finding out about the dangers of playing football.

What rock have you people been living under?

Brown Eyed Girl!

February 1st, 2013
11:42 am

@motherjanegoose,

I hear what you are saying, but this is not a political blog! She was asking questions about whether you would allow your child to play football! That question is being asked a lot here lately to many people in light of all the suits and deaths related to football. He was asked that question, just like you and me and he answered! Can this mom blog be a politics free zone?

truthyness

February 1st, 2013
11:42 am

Yes! Obama opinion does matter and influence me. I admire him for what he has accomplished in spite of all the racist under achieving ranters in these comments. I played football, but I would not like for my child to play football. By the way, black people out there; you see all this racist stuff. Tell your kids to stand up and not take this crap. It continues because you allow it to. They are from all walks of life, but they are nothing but insecure bullies who use racism as a relief valve for their own perceived lack of value.

El Mongol

February 1st, 2013
11:55 am

I would never push my child into nor forbid them the opportunity to participate in any sport they were qualified for. The injury risk is there, but let’s be honest they probably stand a greater risk driving back and forth to school than on the football field.

Halftrack

February 1st, 2013
11:56 am

Football in the early years are not so bad. It is when you get to H.S. and beyond. Fran Tarkenton was discussing this recently. Drugs are behind the problem. Growth hormones and stimulants now produce abnormal size people that play for College and the Pro’s. Notice the size of the players. In the 1st Super Bowl game only 2 people weighed over 300lbs. Sunday over 28 players will weigh over 300lbs. With weight gain, they have become faster in running. The collision is tremendous. This is not a normal sized person in the game anymore. Think about it?

HB

February 1st, 2013
12:05 pm

MJG, athletic scholarships are strictly prohibited in the Ivy League. Your former student may have played football for Harvard, but I’m sure he didn’t receive a scholarship for it.

El Mongol

February 1st, 2013
12:07 pm

truthyness, “all the racist under achieving ranters in these comments.”

Forgive me for being a little off topic, but please understand criticism of a person of color does not somehow automatically equal racism. To simply dismiss any argument against Mr. Obama’s polices as racism is intellectually dishonest and harmful to our Nation as a whole. While the level of vitriol on both sides very much bothers me we should never give up our fundamental right to disagree and debate the issues.

motherjanegoose

February 1st, 2013
12:25 pm

@ Brown Eyed…thanks for clearing that up! Why then, should we look to Obama for guidance about football? I think mentioning his name is about as political as it gets.Sorry but I was simply responding to Angry’s post. I have been involved with this blog for almost 7 years and, as far as I know,there are no rules about staying on a specific topic.

motherjanegoose

February 1st, 2013
12:28 pm

@ HB yes but I am thinking he had to be smart enough to be admitted and a good player to boot? Since I know nothing about Harvard nor football, I guess I made that assumption. Wiping the egg off of my face…haha!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 1st, 2013
12:31 pm

I think the cheerleading is very dangerous too. My niece is cheerleading and I was so glad they made her a base instead of a flyer!! My babysitter was never a flyer and I was glad about that.

resno2

February 1st, 2013
12:59 pm

truthyness, where has obama’s race been mentioned? Are you making assumptions because many of us have not jumped on the obama bandwagon? Using race as a crutch when someone disagrees with him is part of the reason so many have no respect for him.

Brown Eyed Girl!

February 1st, 2013
1:03 pm

@motherjanegoose,

We shouldn’t! He was asked a question and he answered. If I may speak for Theresa, she mentioned it because he is the president and I dare say if the president was any other person, she would have mentioned it then as well. No, there have never been a rule as to what you can say on this blog, but, my goodness, can anywhere be sacred from it? I see enough hate thrown around in other places. I would love to see a neutral spot where people can just discuss the challenges of being a parent!

Decatur Guy

February 1st, 2013
1:04 pm

“I think the cheerleading is very dangerous too. ”

I feel sorry for your kids. You must wrap them in bubble wrap when they go out.

As for Obozo influencing your decision for your kids – you have to be a complete retard to allow a little commie chain smoker to give you advice.

My Prediction: Football will become a class-based sport, like boxing

February 1st, 2013
1:07 pm

It’s striking that a former pro football player said to his son, “I played football so you don’t have to.” He want a better life for his son, one without all the physical injuries and danger to the brain.

People always knew that football crunched your body; now that we know it makes swiss cheese of your brain, too, a lot of middle class parents who plan for their children’s future will be taking football out of those plans. Basketball, lacrosse, soccer, tennis, swimming, rock climbing, martial arts – there are a lot of great sports that kids can still play.

I agree with the poster above who suggested that football is going to become more like boxing in American society: it will be populated by males coming up from poor neighborhoods and tough backgrounds.

Middle class parents are not going to let their kids get damaged brains, because those brains are going to be their future – far more valuable to them than any football games they played.

Decatur Guy

February 1st, 2013
1:11 pm

” I couldn’t believe how hard they were hitting. I walked away knowing I didn’t want my son playing.”

It would truly suck to be raised in your family.

ssidawg

February 1st, 2013
1:12 pm

There are times when I’m surprised Theresa and the AJC keep this blog going. The responses to every blog are full of hate and rudeness.