Can you go back to the first time you played the game you love? Do you remember your first thoughts when you stepped on the field and your cleats touched the grass? These days, parents are nervous about allowing their children to play the game of football due to the fear of injury and it’s inherent violent nature. The NFL’s multiple cases of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) does not make the decision any easier for parents.
Today we are going put those fears aside and talk to a young man about his experience playing football. We asked one of today’s youth to tell us about his first season playing the game.
Andrew Smith is eleven years old and is the starting running back and outside linebacker for his team, the 5th grade Etowah Eagles Blue. Andrew just finished his first full football season. His team started the season 0-4, which Andrew said was “a little frustrating”. After getting into their groove, they ended with a 4-5 record.
I had the pleasure of watching Andrew play his final game on Etowahfootball.tv. While watching Andrew play, his love for the game was made evident by his constant hustle and determination during the game.
When speaking to Andrew this evening, I asked him to tell me about his favorite part of the game. Andrew, said, “I knew a lot about the game before I played, and I am excited that I am out there playing. My parents wouldn’t let me play until I was 100 pounds, and they are still nervous about me getting injured. Our coaches teach us the right way to hit though.” Andrew went on to say, “I love hitting and the physical contact. Oh, and I really love to score.”
After his last game, Andrew was awarded the “hit stick”, which he received twice this year. The player with the “biggest hit or the most tackles” receives the “hit stick” at the end of each game.
I asked Andrew to explain what he would say to one of his friends if he was asked why they should play football? Andrew paused, and stated “I haven’t thought about it, but I guess I would say, “I think you should try it now so that you know the game before reaching high school. If not, I think you might really get hurt once guys are bigger and stronger.” This is the comment of a future SEC linebacker, and with getting the “hit stick” this weekend, this may not be a farfetched statement.