Football: Is it Worth the Risk?

Katelynn Morgan, Center Editor

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Friday Night Lights, Saturday college matchups, Sunday after church professional games, and Monday Night Football are all a big deal. Parties are thrown, bodies are painted, jerseys are worn, voices are lost, and finger foods are eaten – all in the name of football.

The truth is, the love of football is so strong in this country that many people are willing to put their young boys and young men in harm’s way just for the glory of the gridiron.

When football is implanted in a child’s mind at a tender age their life becomes football. For some this passion for the sport lasts a lifetime and costs them nothing more than the value of tickets, snacks, and apparel. For others who play the game it can cost much more. Despite what the media and the medical world tells us, many people still choose to have their children play undeterred by the fact that in a sport so heavy in contact there are many potential dangers that could ruin the lives of these young players.
Although I am not a parent, I can only imagine the joy that one feels when your mini-me scores a touchdown. The joy is even greater if their team wins. But what about the parent whose son doesn’t get up after a big hit; who doesn’t finish practice on the field, is instead on his way to the hospital? Parents need to put aside the glory for a moment and consider the potential danger and heartbreak they may be putting themselves and their children through.

One extreme turn, one wrong landing or, one bad play and your child’s football career could be over. From torn ACL’s to concussions and every injury in between, one injury can destroy how effectively a person plays football or if they will ever get the chance to play again. One football injury can even cause such trauma that a person cannot fully function in society. While football is absolutely an American past time, its catastrophic injuries are not what America prepares its children for.

So why do parents put their children in harm’s way? The reasons are pretty much why parents choose any sports activity for their kids: because they want them to be active, learn teamwork, and have fun. Of course, when that child begins to excel, parents see something else as well: a future. Parents see college scholarships and professional contracts for their child, which is where the dream takes them.
What many people, including parents, fail to realize is that few youth athletes earn college scholarships, and even fewer make it to the professional level. This is especially true in football.

According to the NCAA recruiting facts sheet, 1,083,300 High School Students play football, of that amount 73,300 are NCAA Student Athletes. 6.8% move on from playing high school sports to playing for the NCAA. Only 1.5% of that 6.8% go to play football professionally.
Many parents and coaches fill their children and players with pipe dreams of receiving full scholarships for their excellence in sports; however the percentage of students that actually receive these scholarships is slim to none.

CBS News covered the chances of student athletes actually getting scholarships for their athletic greatness, and the chances were extremely shocking. CBS expresses that the chances of getting an NCAA scholarship, regardless of the sport is “miniscule.” Lynn O’Shaughnessy, author of the article, “8 things you should know about sports scholarships,” says that only “2 percent of high school athletes win sports scholarships every year.” If that is the case, than full ride athletic scholarships barely exist. Only six sports award students with full ride scholarships. These sports are: football, women’s basketball and gymnastics, volleyball, and tennis.

Not only are the chances of winning a sports scholarship slim to none, but the health risk are extremely high. The NCAA’s injury percentage breakdown states that 7.4% of injuries are concussions, 4.3% are head, face, and neck related, 16.9% deal with the upper body limbs, 11.9% torso and pelvis, 50.4% lower limbs, and 9.1% is other.

Many people don’t realize that many of the injuries are life damaging. Some of these injuries can potentially stop a child from playing football, especially if these injuries happen at such a young age. The dreams of going pro are nice but reality must be faced and a plan B must be made for the safety of our children.

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