Every parent wants their child to be as happy and successful as possible, and will do anything to make that happen. Due to their popularity, many children express an interest in playing some form of organized sport, whether it be hockey, baseball, football, soccer, etc. This means many parents are committed to driving their child to countless practices, games and tournaments as they play with their team.
Sports undoubtedly have many benefits for a child. They learn discipline from having to show up on time to practices and games, and perhaps having to train on their own during their free time. They have to learn teamwork and respect on the field or court. They learn how to handle disputes with teammates, how to manage disappointment and motivate themselves to strive for success. There are countless beneficial lessons that children can gain from sports that they can later helpfully apply to their lives off the field.
However, there’s a dangerous side to sports that may make many parents think twice – or send their child into the game with extra padding for protection. Much has been said lately about the potential effect of contact sports on the brain, with many professional or former professional players coming forward with information about how rigorous athletics have negatively impacted them. Whether a child plays contact or non-contact sports, there’s a definite risk factor involved. Some athletes are very specific – they’ve banned their offspring from the sports that have the highest risk factor due to their high contact nature, such as football and hockey.
You would think that every parent who has themselves played sports at the professional level would support, and even encourage, their child to likewise play their sport of choice. However, this is seemingly not the case. There are many athletes who have taken a different approach based on their experience in the sports world, as they know exactly how much damage playing a sport for years on end can have. Here are 10 athletes who have publicly stated that they will not allow their child to play a certain sport.
10. Terry Bradshaw
Everyone knows Terry Bradshaw from his iconic office linebacker commercials, and for his many years dominating on the field in the NFL. Bradshaw, a former quarterback and current Fox analyst, has been outspoken about his opinion on sports and injuries. On an appearance on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, Bradshaw stated that, if he had a son, he would never let him play football. Bradshaw admitted that while he has no regrets about his decision to play professional sports, he has had several major concussions and would worry about the impact of such head injuries on a child.
9. Brett Favre
Brett Favre spent a whopping 20 years in the NFL, continuing to play after he became a grandfather. As a father, he has been blessed with two daughters. However, perhaps he was thinking of his grandson when he answer Matt Lauer’s question about whether he’d allow a son to play football. Favre, like many professional athletes, expressed a wariness to letting his child play such a rough contact sport. While he listed some psychological issues, such as the pressure that a child of his would face having a father with such a successful NFL career, his predominant concern was the physical toll that football takes on the body. Favre himself has confessed his time in football led to memory loss.
8. Rashean Mathis
Rashean Mathis loves football, and he also loves his son R.J. He mentioned that football is the last thing he’d want R.J. to play. While some parents push their children into sports, Mathis has stated that he didn’t need his son to play any sport, regardless of his own success in the world of athletics. Mathis, like many other NFL players, cited the physically demanding nature of football as the reason he’d try to keep R.J. off any football rosters if he could. Understandably so – Mathis himself has had knee, groin, and finger injuries throughout his career. He advocated golf as a potential sport for his son – far less physically strenuous.
7. Kurt Warner
Warner is a man who loves football – he spent nearly 15 years in the NFL before retiring, and still works part-time as a football analyst. Despite this, he stated on the Dan Patrick Show that he was terrified of his sons playing football. He mentioned the typical physical impact that many former NFL players discuss, as well as things such as Junior Seau’s suicide and the future of the league. Warner had years of firsthand experience seeing what exactly football could do to an individual – both positively and negatively, and his reluctance to let his own sons play football speaks volumes about the harshness of the American sport.
6. Drew Brees
While children playing football certainly don’t hit with the same strength as full-grown, trained men, the presence of youth football is very real in the United States and many children strap on their pads for games. Drew Brees, one of the most well-known quarterbacks currently in the NFL, has stated that he’ll let his sons choose whether they want to play football when they’re in their teens. Until then, the Brees boys are to stay off the field. Brees commented that children can definitely be too young to safely go out on the field for football games. One thing is for sure – if they toss the pigskin around the backyard with their NFL superstar father for the years before they’re allowed to head out onto the field, they’ll be more than prepared for teenage football when the time comes.
5. Adrian Peterson
Peterson has been in the public eye a lot recently because of the child abuse allegations made against him. Coming from that source, a lecture on child safety may seem a little silly. However, the point remains – one of the most successful running backs in the NFL has outright declared that he would never let his son play football because it’s too dangerous.
4. Bart Scott
Scott spent 10 years in the NFL, but when it comes to his son, he wants no football in his life. He cited the health consequences that many other players have referenced when explaining why he discouraged his son from taking after his father on the field. He mentioned boxing is another sport he’ll ban his son from. Anything that’s full contact and has a risk of concussions, basically. He’s green lighted baseball as an option for his son, and, like Rashean Mathis, he probably wouldn’t mind his son playing the low-contact sport of golf.
3. Jermichael Finley
During the taping of a Green Bay Nation broadcast, Finley discussed the terrifying moments that surrounded his bruised spinal cord injury, recounting the experience of laying on the field, conscious, but being unable to move. The prospect of potentially being unable to walk due to the injury led him to tears. While Finley has since recovered and continues in the NFL as a free agent, the impact of his own experience has led him to develop a definitive perspective on children and football. Should other kids play football? Absolutely, says Finley. What about his own sons? Absolutely not. Finley has stated that his own experiences mean he won’t let his sons play football, instead limiting them to less violent alternatives such as tennis, golf and soccer.
2. Troy Aikman
Aikman has been incredibly outspoken about his opinion regarding children and football, telling HBO’s Bryant Gumbel that he would likely not let his own son play football, if he had one. Why, exactly? Simple – the extremely high risk of serious injuries. Aikman has been honest about his feelings that the league needs to make some adjustments to lower the risk of injury that players face. He advocates things like returning to leather helmets and shortening the seasons as potential ways to address the high impact football can take on players. Perhaps if the league became a little gentler, any future Aikman offspring would have a shot at playing.
1. LeBron James
LeBron James is an absolute phenomenon when it comes to the world of professional sports – his rise has been meteoric, and he’s achieved a notoriety that some celebrities don’t even attain. As a result of being in the public eye, many are familiar with his sons and wife Savannah. However, his sons aren’t too familiar with football – it’s banned in the James household. The boys are allowed to play basketball, baseball and soccer only. Football and hockey are prohibited because of their high contact nature that leads to many health dangers. James himself could have been a football player, had the whole basketball thing not panned out, as he played the sport himself in high school. However, his own sons will have some waiting to do –Papa James will revisit the issue of contact sports with them when they’ve reached their teenage years, and not before then.