Parents, Their Children, and Contact Sports

Parents, Their Children, and Contact Sports

It is no secret that children are at risk when playing contact sports. It is also no secret that parents often hesitate to put children in the position to get seriously injured, or injured at all, just for a game that won’t matter in the next week. When you think of contact sports, the most often thought of sport is of course football.

According to a study conducted by Stanford Medicine, Children’s Health, there are over 3.5 million injuries to teens or younger within contact sports. Although rare, the leading cause of death in these age groups within sports is brain-related. There is increasing awareness and concern about the risk of concussions and their long-term impact on brain health. Research has shown that concussions can lead to problems such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), memory issues, and other neurological conditions. This awareness has made many parents cautious about contact sports, and lately, we have seen fewer and fewer parents allow their children to participate in contact sports.

However, it’s not only injury that causes hesitation among parents; participating in contact sports often requires a significant financial investment in equipment, uniforms, league fees, travel, and other associated costs. This financial burden can be a definite deterrent for some families. I wanted a take from a parent who had multiple children in contact sports, so I interviewed my mother, Melissa Merchant. She states, “There is surely a risk, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified when you or your brother came down with an injury. But that was y’all’s passion and as a parent, I can’t hide you away from possible risk in the world.”

I asked a friend, Landon Nalley, who played from 6 years old to 20 years old how he felt about the topic. “If I didn’t experience football back then, I don’t think I would’ve gotten a passion for it to be honest. I also don’t think I would’ve been playing in college now.”

While these reasons can lead some parents to hesitate or decide against enrolling their children in contact sports, others may view these sports as opportunities for their children to develop resilience, teamwork, discipline, and physical fitness. Ultimately, the decision often comes down to weighing the perceived benefits against the potential risks and considering the individual child’s interests, health, and personality.


Photo by Riley McCullough on Unsplash