Here are three reasons why your child should play youth football:
- For the love of the game. A child should never play a sport that he or she doesn’t like. My wife and I discuss that with both of our children. Bradley plays football because he loves the sport. He’s been around it from a young age as I used to take him to practices when I was the radio announcer for the New York Dragons of the Arena Football League. From the baby carrier to running around with the players after practice, Bradley fell in love with football and carries that passion to this day.
- Physical activity. We live in a society where an increasing number of children are inactive. According to a 2012 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, 1 in 6 U.S. children are obese. A little fun playing Madden is fine, but not moving around is not good for a child. Kids need to be active and playing something. Whether its tackle or flag football, those are great ways for a child to run around and stay in shape.
- Teamwork and discipline. During my 26 years in sports media, I’ve had many football players tell me that the sport played a big role in their lives, not just on the field but also off-the field. I’ve also had many parents tell me how important it is for their kids to play, and I’ve seen this as well during the six years that Bradley has played. Playing youth football is a great way to build discipline in a child, and it is a terrific tool for learning how important teamwork is. It’s a sport where you really have to concentrate on your job and be able to trust what your teammates are doing.
Every kid who plays youth football dreams of making it to the NFL. It could just be having a catch with a parent or sibling, and a child will pretend that he or she is hauling in the game winning catch in the Super Bowl.
It’s great to dream and to have goals in life, but that’s just a kid being a kid. A parent shouldn’t have such lofty expectations or put that kind of pressure on a child.
Children should play football because they like it, to have fun and to learn some important life lessons. My son Bradley loves playing football, and he would love to play at the next level. We go to see our local high school team play from time to time, and Bradley wonders what it would be like to be out on that field five years or so if the opportunity comes about.
But that’s not why he plays. He plays because it’s fun, he’s making friends for life, and he’s using it as a tool to grow. That’s all my wife and I can ask for as parents.