I signed my two youngest sons up for football a few weeks ago.
It set me back $400.
And, as hard as it is to believe (for me too!), it is totally worth it because since my middle son got involved in the sport last season, his life has changed dramatically.
When he begged me to join the team the first two years he was old enough I convinced him he wasn’t ready. In reality, I just didn’t want to keep up with the practice schedule while I had a still napping two year old at home. Plus, the thought of sitting in the sun during summer training sounded like torture. And, $200? Really? Two. Hundred. Dollars?!
And then there was fear. Fear of him suffering an injury, to brain or body, was a real concern. Everyone knows about the controversy surrounding football safety and concussions.
Last season, I officially ran out of excuses when my then 4 year old kicked his nap to the curb, I decided that the sun is probably not going to kill me, my parents offered to pay for his playing fee, and I joined the NFL for an instructional meeting about football health and safety.
I am so glad I did.
For my son, his involvement in football has literally changed his life. Formerly so shy and socially anxious that he wouldn’t even ask to use the restroom at school (yup, he pooped himself, and yeah, it was baaaaaad). His involvement in our local football program, unlike any other sport we tried previously, has literally changed his life. He has blossomed into a successful athlete, a reliable teammate, a school leader, and an overall confident dude.
I can only thank his football coaches and his teammates for the role they have played in creating this…
No more rock-kicking-creepy-playground-loner junk for him!
For that I say, thank you football. Thank you!
Because of my new found passion for the sport that has done so much for him, I recently became a member of the NFL’s Heads Up Football Advisory Committee designed to assist the NFL in making football a better, safer sport for players. As I get more educated about the dangers of the game as it is currently being played, and how we as parents can collaborate with coaches to realistically make it safer for our boys, I am optimistic and less fearful about the potential of my Dudes to have long, healthy, SAFE experiences with youth football.
And, I’m not the only mom who feels this way.
Last week I had the opportunity to talk to Charlotte Jones Anderson, daughter of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, current chair of the NFL Foundation (“a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the health and safety of sports, youth football and the communities in which we live”), and mom to three, two of whom are tackle football players.
Clearly football has always been a part of her life, but like so many other concerned mothers, even she has faced trepidation about having her boys on the field.
How does she combat that?
Education (along with helmets and mouth guards and shin guards and the like).
According to Charlotte, it is education and gaining insight and knowledge about the game and how to be safe that is going to help parents and coaches of youth players become advocates for their children’s safety on the field (or the court, or the slopes, or wherever your kids get their play on).
As the leader of the NFL Foundation, she’s working to make sure that education happens by supporting Heads Up Football, and helping coaches and players access needed training, and better resources.
Said to be “the most powerful woman in the NFL”, I think she’s in a good position to pull it off.
With my help of course. Insert maniacal-yeah-baby-I’m-going-to-take-over-the-world-laugh for emphasis.
*PS. This is NOT a sponsored post. The NFL does not pay me (although probably they should start) to spread their message. They don’t pay me to provide insight into what it’s like to be on the ground floor of a youth football organization working tirelessly to make the coach hate me keep my boys safe. They don’t pay me to be passionate about this issue. I just am. Because my Dudes and their brains are worth it.