First off, like anything in life, the game of football can produce both highlights and low-lights, accolades and disappointments, triumphs and defeats.
In what could easily be described as the ultimate team sport, so much of one’s performance relies on what those around you are capable of accomplishing while on the football field.
I didn’t play on many successful football teams, from youth football to high school ball.
I was an under-sized, lazy-in-the-weight-room type of player. I was probably quicker than I was fast, but I ran a 4.49 40-yard dash as a sophomore. Additionally, due to countless hours of throwing the ball around with my Dad and my friends and playing football every chance that I was able, I had very reliable hands.
“Don’t EVER jump unless it is COMPLETELY necessary, David,” my father annoyingly exclaimed as I tried to haul in what I thought would be SportsCenter-type catches. For the record, there were a few expletives thrown in there, if I’m being completely honest. SportsCenter wasn’t around, I don’t think, when I first started playing catch with my Dad. But, you get the point.
He was right, by the way, but you all know that if you’ve ever watched a day of football in your life: stay on your feet unless you can’t.
Once high school hit, with everyone out-sizing me as I grew into my teen years, my knowledge of the game easily trumped my ability. Truth be told, I found it hard to breathe — literally — and even more difficult to calm the nervous feeling of the pressure involved with impressing my Dad.
All of that being said, I understood the fundamentals of the game, knowing how to hit and, just as importantly, knowing how to take a hit. Both were staples of my childhood.
I was born a San Diego Chargers fan and football was fed to me for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I genuinely appreciate that, by the way. I wouldn’t change that for the world.
So why would I allow my children, son and daughter, to play football, you ask?
Because I will teach them the way I was taught: the right way.
Mekyah, seven, is very fast and she doesn’t know it. Her hand-eye coordination is remarkable for a young child.
Kayden, five, is unafraid of contact; he has no bubble. I also feel as though he needs a forum to release some of his anxiety and, what I believe is, some pent-up aggression passed on through genes.
They both will benefit from the discipline that the game affords those who take it seriously.
Both will be allowed to play the game, and both will have the choice of whether or not they want to play the game.
My daughter looks like her mother, meaning she is absolutely gorgeous. She may not look like someone who wants to go out and get hit or hit others, but I have a feeling that she is capable of some special things. She is incredibly bright and I could only imagine what she could do with further understanding of the game.
Kade is unaware of his physical strength, and he will need some discipline to go along with his hap-hazard awareness. Both his Mother and I have worked with him on his passing mechanics: proper footwork, lead-hand in front, solid hip rotation to create torque while passing the ball, ball up by the ear and he has a solid zip on his throws. He is the biggest kid in his class, and I am starting to wonder if that stature will sustain itself. Or, like me, he’ll go from being the tallest kid in his first-grade class to being far shorter than most of his male counterparts once he reaches high school.
Both of my children will be taught about proper knee bend, angles and where to put your head on each and every tackle opportunity. They will both be well-versed on the multitude of ways they can use to protect themselves at all times while on a football field.
Some injuries on the field are completely unavoidable. But you can be hurt while walking down the street, sitting at a table and in just about any other imaginable scenario. Living life afraid of unforeseen circumstances will never be a part of their upbringing.
The fact of the matter is, it’s entirely possibly that neither of them will have any desire to play football, and that is perfectly fine; join the band, sing like your parents, play baseball, basketball, soccer, et cetera. Do whatever makes you happy!
But if you want to play football, Kyah and Kayden, please know that you are encouraged to do so, because it is the greatest sport in the world.