Dear Football Mom: Since my oldest son started football, I have been the team mom. I’m the one everyone comes to for answers. He is now 13 years old entering ninth grade next year and is massive, 5 foot 7 inches, 190 pounds. Football is his only sport, and all his life he’s wanted to play big-time college ball. He wants to take a break this next year and not play. I have cried my eyes out. My husband is mad/frustrated. I loved watching him play. What would you do? Do we push him or let him decide? He’s a straight A and honor student.
Dear Football Reader: Take a deep breath. Exhale. Don’t panic. You are one heartbeat away from being one of the most envied moms on God’s green grass. Do you know how many parents would give their last tooth if their child got all A’s and on the honor roll? As much as we love the game of football, grades should always come first. Sounds like you raised an awesome son.
Here’s the rub: No doubt, he’s got splinters in his britches from straddling the fence, struggling with this decision. If you push him to play, what could possibly go wrong, right? Everything. His chances of getting hurt rise like a high tide. You can’t make him eat the barbecue.
I never encourage parents to push their child to play this game. If their heart isn’t in it, they most likely will get injured one way or the other. They tend to gulp the mild sauce and instead of sticky fingers, push away from the plate. In other words, sprout a lackadaisical attitude. That is never good for any player involved in any sport, not to mention the team he/she is playing on. It really is dig in or don’t come to the table. Pass the hot sauce.
You don’t want him playing football to please you. I’m sure you made your wishes known. You want him to play because his heart is in it and he flat out wants to.
What you might do is lay out a little reality spread with all the trimmings. Keep an open conversation going, but back off football. Discuss the cost of college tuition, instead. These days, even with financial assistance of some sort added, academic scholarships, etc., the price tag is humongous. He still has to eat, pay for books, sleep somewhere, and pay utilities. Suggest that he’ll most likely be working while attending school and that is always a tough bone to gnaw on. Not only, will he cram for exams, attend classes, keep papers due on deadlines, all while juggling a job? Those are the ingredients for some blistering hot sauce — it’s enough to give a fellow heartburn.
He may have to attend classes and live at home. Nothing wrong with that, but if so, let him know you’ll be charging rent. (Of course, that is between you and your husband, but your job isn’t to keep him on your payroll for life.) Your days of financial support will be over once that boy graduates from high school. Assure him you won’t stand in his way if he chooses to go this route.
On the other hand, nabbing a D-IA college scholarship pays for everything. D-IA is the only scholarship that doles out a full ride, even though he will be working his fanny off for team-U. And boy howdy, do those players work and work all year. For the college football player, it’s a full-time, 12-month job. There is no such thing as time off, not even for summers. (I will discuss this later as questions await my response about college summer programs.)
Scholarship athletes are afforded free tutors, study hall assistance, all the food they want, and other legal NCAA perks. When you add it all up, it’s a pretty good gig. Playing college ball isn’t for sissies either, but warts and all, how can you beat that for a dream job? If ya gotta work, it is one of the best campus jobs going.
Originally Posted in the Gaston Gazette