A Message To Parents: Stop Forcing Your Children To Play Football

8/15/13 6:10:57 PM -- Alexandria, VA  --  Michael Tillery, 8, left, and Thomas Farrow, 7, go through a Heads Up Football drill during Fairfax County Youth Football practice.  Photo by H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY staff ORG XMIT:  HB 130019 youthfootbal 8/15/2013 (Via OlyDrop)


This is what I heard in the very short distance when I stepped outside my house early in the morning this past Sunday. When I looked to see where it was, I saw that someone was yelling all this…

…to a child. A child who couldn’t have been more than seven or eight years old.

I normally do not care to curse very much, especially in writing blog posts unless it’s absolutely necessary. Often, I censor myself, but I did not want to do that this time. I want you to feel exactly what I felt as I stood outside my house on Sunday. Putting stars in place of letters wasn’t going to cut it. Not this time.

If you believe any of this is inaccurate, there’s a pretty good chance you’re right. A whole lot more than this was said. I cut it short.

As for the child, he had on a football uniform, complete with pads and a helmet. I would assume that the person yelling was the boy’s father, as  but at any rate, I started to walk down there to tell him to chill.

Yes, really.

They eventually went into the house, but as I went on my run, I was very annoyed. How messed up in the head do you have to be to yell at someone that age like you’re talking to an adult? And over what? Football? I’ve never even yelled at an adult like that, let alone a child. I’ve never seen a reason to. And I’m in the Army.

No, this isn’t some “hater” talking who doesn’t like football. I love watching football. I’m a very big football fan. However, one thing I’m not a fan of is parents who get like this toward their children over playing football.

I know this post is going to offend quite a few people who read it. I’m not concerned. If you have a problem with it, take a number.

I already know what you’re going to say. “Kids these days are such pansies! They’re weak! They need to toughen up! That’s what’s wrong with this generation! Parents are so afraid of offending children and hurting their feelings!”

Stop. Seriously, just stop. You don’t sound tough. I look at people like that and just laugh. What are you trying to compensate for? There seems to be this notion that the ONLY way to “toughen” children up is to smack them around, yell all kinds of obscenities to them and in terms of sports, force them to play football.

Hell, any idiot can do that. Unfortunately, a lot of idiots are doing it.

I know…it’s not nice to call someone an “idiot.” Well it’s nicer than what I’d really like to say. At least in this particular case.

Anyway, the reason I feel so strongly about this is because it’s a shame to me that so many people out there have such a twisted sense of what it means to be a parent. I’m not an expert by any means, but I know for certain that THIS isn’t it.

I wouldn’t be surprised if some parents out there agreed with what this parent did and saw no issue with yelling at a child like that. Why? To “teach them about life”? To “prepare them for this cruel world”? To “help them to understand that they’re going to get their feelings hurt sometimes”?


You don’t have to teach your kids all about life in ten minutes. You have them all the way up until the age of eighteen. You don’t need to force “life” down their throats at age seven or eight.

It’s a little something called progression. I’m not saying that you should never teach them about the cruelness of life. But it should come gradually. A little at a time.

These days, I constantly hear people complain about other people being offended by this and that. People have such a problem with sensitivity. Speaking of foul language, some people act like using the word “sensitive” is just as bad as cursing. Sensitivity is considered as a weakness to so many.

In terms of football, I do understand that there are a lot of kids who want to play football for themselves. Only you know if that’s true or not. If it is true, then nothing I say should bother you at all. If it does, then yep, the shoe fits. I know of way too many parents out there who just force their children to play football. Quite a few of them have flat-out said so. Someone once told me, “I’m going to make my son play football. That’ll help toughen him up some.” I asked, “Does he want to play football?” The response was, “Who cares?! He’s playing!”

Whether you’re a father and you do it to attempt to live vicariously through your children, or you’re a father OR mother and you do it because it makes you look like the “cool” parent, OR you think your child is going to be the next great NFL player, it’s wrong to force  your children to play football, or hell, any sport.


I know you may be saying, “Well, that’s your opinion.” Yes. It’s my opinion. It’s my opinion that it’s a FACT that it’s absolutely ridiculous when parents go crazy and out of their minds over their kids playing football, especially the way this father did. And there are a LOT of you out there.

Why such a desire to make your kid(s) “tough,” and how do you figure football, smacking them around or berating them like this is the sure way to do it? That’s the ONLY way to teach them about “life”?

Sorry, but I call that piss poor parenting.

Parents need to stop bullying their children under the guise of trying to “make them tough.” It’s embarrassing. Parents will go through all that to teach them how to be “tough” and “deal with life,” yet you won’t teach your children basic manners. Won’t teach them how to be respectful to others. Oh, right, because if others aren’t respectful, you’ll teach them to be the same way?

I wish parents would cut out this “tough” foolishness, especially when it comes to children. As they get older, you teach them more. They don’t need to learn EVERYTHING about life before they graduate elementary school. There’s time. Let them be children.

It’s a shame to see so many kids out there who may not really even want anything to do with football being forced to play by their parents, all because you think it will make them “tough” and teach them about life. Then most of the time, the parents are more excited about it than the children are.

But…this was supposed to be for them, right?

Of course, no one is going to change how they feel on my account. That’s fine. I just know that children need to learn a LOT more than just how to play football, how to deal with disappointments and how to be cursed at. You want to teach them all that, then this father is the on the right track.

However, if you want to be a GOOD parent, then they need to learn all the POSITIVE aspects of life also, because there are MANY. Stop teaching your children that the bad stuff is all there is to life. Just because you want to have a negative attitude all the time doesn’t mean it has to be in them as well. There’s a whole lot more to life than just all the “cruelness.”

Forcing them to play football means they will grow up thinking they have no other options. Cursing at them teaches them how to handle problems and no, excessive cursing is NOT the answer. Smacking them around tells them that how you deal with tough situations is with physical violence. All the wrong answers.

A lot of you won’t understand this, because all you will see is that I’m being “too sensitive” and encouraging parents to “raise their kids like pansies.” Well, if that’s your mindset, then you’re too damn simple to understand this in full anyway. No need to even waste anymore time on you. You really have a lot to learn about parenting if you see THIS as being “what’s wrong with today’s generation.”

However, if you can bring yourself to have the maturity to understand everything being said here, you’re only hurting your children if you choose to force them to play football or anything else that should be an option. And yes, I understand that not everything can be an option for them right now. But sports should be. Every kid is not going to like football and as a parent, if you feel it’s appropriate to force them because you think it will make them a better person, then just as well, you have a lot to learn about being a parent. I’m no expert, but I do know at least that much.

Someone is surely thinking, “Oh, he probably doesn’t have children.” I have two. 10 and 7. And I have no intentions of forcing them to play football or any other sport. I don’t need to live vicariously through them. I don’t curse at them all day, nor smack them around. I teach them about life by telling them about the disappointments, but also the GOOD aspects. I don’t ram everything bad down their throats as though that is all life has to offer.

If that makes me a bad parent, then hell…I’m about to get a whole lot worse as they get older.

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3 Responses to A Message To Parents: Stop Forcing Your Children To Play Football

  1. Brady cook says:

    No, I think your absolutely correct! This is actually happening to me currently, I’ve been playing peewee football since I was like 5 till now where I’m in highschool and my parents literally said, “were not letting you quite until you played through your sophomore year, and by then if you still absolutely hate it then we’ll let you quit!” They have always either guilt tripped me into playing or actually just forced me into playing, they didn’t even care about the like 15 time I almost passed out on the field, 3 times I blacked out for 5 seconds or even that my arm gave out because of it. THIS WAS JUST ONE SEASON!! They just said “rub some dirt on it,” or “Its just a booboo.” I haven’t wanted to play for the last like 4 years I played and there still forcing me to play. I just told them straight out that i absolutely hated it and told them i didnt want to do it anymore and they literally said this,” we are not letting you quit football because it gives you something to do other than baseball because we don’t know if your going to even play.” There so ignorant too because they think that if I’m not in something that I’m the person to stay after school and do drugs, I’ve smelt them before and there gross and intolerable. My parents have no faith in me and are so fucking ignorant to think that of me. Sorry for the language. I even told them that I could go into a club and they didn’t even let me finish speaking about the many different clubs I could join and yelled,”YOUR NOT QUITING AND THAT’S FINAL!!!” I almost broke my bed frame from hitting it so hard, even through the foot thick foam on top of it.


  2. Jim Schecter says:

    This article is spot on. I am a medical student with an interest in orthopedics/sports medicine, and the consequences of parents attempting to vicariously live out their athletic dreams through their kids are catastrophic. Not only is it psychologically traumatizing for some, but we are seeing an explosion in degenerative connective tissue injuries typically found in middle-aged adults in children. Children have been scraping knees and breaking bones for ages, but ACL tears, herniated discs, and rotator cuff tears are becoming increasingly common in kids due to vigorous, specialized athletic training. What people don’t seem to understand is that these injuries have lifelong ramifications: surgery, early-onset arthritis, joint instability, occupational restrictions, long-term pain medication (usually NSAIDS), resultant organ damage, depression, I could go on. What do you tell a 25 year old who needs a full knee replacement after tearing his ACL playing football when he was 12? They only last around 15 years in young, active people and you can only have 2-3 in a lifetime. Not to mention, kids who have endured this level of repetitive micro-trauma to their knees most likely have additional issues as well. Our bodies have to last 50 – 70 years beyond high school, and a childhood full of high-intensity sports can make life a lot harder than it needs to be.

    I’m all for strict parenting. I believe in discipline, chores, grounding, spanking, etc., but in my opinion, anyone forcing their kids to play contact sports should be investigated by Child Protective Services.


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