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It’s time for high school football.  As I write this piece, high school football teams are putting their finishing touches on a practice regimen that may have begun as early as last March.  You may be one of those who remember that when you and I played football in high school, practice never started earlier than July.  But high school has become a much bigger business now – as shown by Hollywood movies such as “Friday Night Lights” – because in every small town in America during the fall, there is nothing bigger going on than the high school football game being played on Friday night.

And today, one of your sons – or perhaps one of your grandsons – is getting ready to put maybe as many as seven or eight months of football practice behind him to get ready for the first game of the season.  What school is he being prepared to represent?  Valencia?  Canyon Country?  Hart?  Surely, the high schools of Santa Clarita may have a richer troop of high school teams that have made it to championship games than any other high school in any other towns of similar size in the state of California.

But you may not be feeling so good this year about your son or grandson playing football, not as good as parents have felt in previous years.  Because you have heard too much – read too much – about the effects of the CTE degeneration of the brain on football players.  And you have read in spite of expectations of how CTE can permanently damage a football player’s brain even with relatively little exposure to football.  It can even happen in college.  In fact, it can even happen in high school.  In fact, it can even happened in Pop Warner Football

So if you are thinking about this, I think it is unfair for you to keep these thoughts from your son or grandson.  If you are old enough to have a son or grandson playing football, you are also old enough to learn that human beings are not invulnerable. On the other hand, if you are a 16 or 17 year-old old football player, it may be much harder to believe that you are not invulnerable.

But in the long run, children would rather you be honest with them than dishonest.  It may be hard for them to take a lot of honesty from you at first, but twenty years from now at family reunions, you will find that they have much more appreciated your honest moments of parenting with them than you dishonest lapses.

Really, the honest thing to do about football is that if you feel that football is that it is too great a risk for your son’s future, you should at least tell him why you feel that way.

But good parenting is also letting a child do a more and more of his own parenting.  So I am not recommending that you make the final decision on whether or not he can play football.  But I do think that you should give all of your reasons why you feel he should not do so.  Finally he should make the decision on whether he does or does not.

I myself may have been one of the worst high school players who ever lived, but I at least got enough experience in the game to develop respect for anyone who has mastered its discipline requirements.

But all this respect if turning into anger at the institutions of the game for not protecting better the outstanding young Americans who are trusting these institutions.

Presently, when the victims of CTE dying very young, they are more often than in any other manner committing suicide.  They have even been as young as 19-years old and have been driven to suicide by CTE.  When the autopsy finally pinpoints what damage may be done by CTE, the 19-year-old can be found to have the brain of a 65-year-old man.  Only those who are experiencing the spell of CTE can really describe what that is like. But we know that even a 19-year-old man cannot react normally to a 19-year-old woman when he has a 65-year-old brain.  Nor can he know anything about the hopes and dreams of a typical 19-year-old when his brain is 65 years old.

And so, I urge you to at least give your son the reason why so many young and intelligent men today are not playing football, and they are even living happily ever after following their making that decision.

Chris Sharp- Commentary

Chris Sharp is an Educator and a prize-winning professional writer. He has recently published a new book titled How to Like a Human Being . Sharp's latest book is an Amazon Kindle collection of his published short stories, Every Kind of Angel . His commentaries represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of The SCV Beacon.