I read with interest and consternation Daniel McGinn’s provocative article (“Should You Let Your Child Play Football?” March 2). I have two grandsons (3 and 5) in Dallas and two granddaughters (5 and 7) in Columbus, Ohio. I have on many occasions told their mothers that I have one word for them in regard to their children: golf. I think it is unfortunate that many parents and coaches are in reality frustrated adults who never made it athletically as youths.
Whitefield, New Hampshire
Once again I open the paper to see news about why it is wrong to have your kids play football, but what about why it is right? Both my sons have played football, baseball, hockey, and basketball, and there is no other sport that comes close to building teamwork like football. What about the structure, the discipline, and the integrity to learn and participate in this great sport? I cannot thank enough the men who have coached my sons and molded them into the young men they are today. Despite the concussion headlines and never-ending stories that the public seems to eat up, I see many households where kids are making the decisions, and they would rather play video games than join a sports team.
I thought McGinn missed one thing about football that still makes it worthwhile: Football is one of the few high school sports (wrestling might be another) in which the average kid with no more than average athletic ability can still do well through effort and hard work. In most other high school sports, the talented kids have risen to the top and less talented kids have been weeded out or opted out themselves.
If your child asked you if it was OK to put on a helmet and run headfirst into a cement wall over and over and over again for weeks on end and then for several years on end, would you give him your blessing? I played football for Brockton High and loved every minute of it. I allowed my son to play for Sharon High, and I wish that I hadn’t. Let’s just admit that if we allow our kids to play football, we are all idiots, because we are playing Russian roulette with our most prized possessions.
Dr. Jordan J. Arbit
The answer is simple. Flag football, wearing helmets and pads, should be cultivated at an early age to change the culture of the violent nature of tackle football.
It’s hard to frame the argument in a value-add proposition about whether the kid will play professionally. There are many benefits that young men get from football beyond a possible future as professional. Parents need to weigh the risks by judging how seriously a team takes player safety.
posted at bostonglobe.com
McGinn mentions a few times that coaches and parents are comforted by the fact that some teams have the players take a preseason base-line test to determine if and when a player can return to play after a concussion. Parents should not be too comforted by this, because players know how to fudge the outcome of these tests, and a zealous player will do so in order to return to play too soon after an injury.
FREE FOR ALL
As the former head of Children’s Services at Cary Memorial Library, I can’t believe that you used two full pages to list free Boston-area family programs (“23 Free Things to Do With the Family,” March 2), including events at area stores, and neglected to mention that public libraries offer a year-round treasure trove of free programs for children of all ages and their families. Public library programs are free to everyone, whether they live in a particular town or not. And public libraries don’t offer these programs in order to sell merchandise once the “free” family programs are over.
Ruth Nadelman Lynn
SUMMER IN THE MOVIES
What a great article by Dr. Robin Schoenthaler about her son Cooper’s experiences in moviemaking (“Our Hollywood Adventure,” March 2). I knew Dr. Schoenthaler as an oncologist, not as a “stage mom,” but can imagine her having those conversations with her son. It’s clear Cooper learned much from the experience, but he must have brought a great deal of maturity to the challenges. It was a delightful narrative about a young man’s never-to-be-forgotten growing-up ventures into a world little known to most of us.
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