Opinion: My husband played college football, but our son won’t

After Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, 24, suffered cardiac arrest during a televised football game Monday night, I asked parents whether they would allow their sons to play tackle football.

Among the respondents was Kim Delk-Brooks, a real estate agent in Marietta.

Here is her guest column.

By Kim Delk-Brooks

I have a 7-year-old son. My husband and I will not allow him to play tackle football. We both agree that it is just too dangerous.

We get a lot of questions from family and friends regarding our decision because my husband was able to attend Carson-Newman University in Tennessee on a football scholarship. His older brother attended the University of Georgia on a football scholarship and now coaches high school football.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

They both played sports from childhood through young adulthood, and it was a pathway to college degrees. Sports kept them focused and out of trouble. They gained lifelong friends, learned discipline and many life lessons.

That’s still not enough for us to allow our son to play. We both recognize that there is risk with any sport. For us, however, the long-term effects from years of football outweigh the perceived benefits, and it’s just not worth it. The body is not made to take those type of hits day in and day out.

My husband has talked about his highlight tapes, where he was literally knocking players out as he was an offensive lineman. That is celebrated. Knocking guys out on the field is what gets you a spot on the team.

What people don’t talk about is what happens off the field. My husband has sustained concussions, a torn meniscus, a broken foot, dislocated fingers, multiple surgeries ... the list goes on and on. He is 39 years old with arthritis like that of a much older man and lives in the chiropractor’s office.

The expectation is to play through the pain and get back on the field as soon as possible or risk losing your spot. My husband never played professional football. All of this was high school and college ball.

Our son loves the game and has begged to play. There’s no doubt he would be great if he did. I have often explained why I worry about him playing and the potential risks. He was watching the Buffalo Bills-Cincinnati Bengals game Monday night when player Damar Hamlin suffered a life-threatening injury. We discussed what transpired. For the first time, I could tell that he understood the gravity of the situation and why I have always said no.

As I type this, my son asked for an update on Hamlin. He asked if he could’ve died. My answer: Yes and we must continue to pray for his full recovery. To which my son responded, “God hears everyone’s prayers and will make him well again but his mama is really worried about him, isn’t she?”

I know what happened Monday is rare, but we know too much about the body. We know football is dangerous. Why do we continue to cheer in the face of danger and allow our loved ones to risk life and limb for money and entertainment?