ESPN's latest Outside the Lines segment is a compelling look at a question that faces us not just as football fans, but as parents: is the game too violent for young kids? How old should you be before you strap on pads and helmets?
It's a question that Chris Long, one of the stars of the Rams and the son of a Hall of Famer, posed openly on Twitter this afternoon. You have only to get 23 seconds into the video to see why even a pro's pro might get squeamish...
how bout yall, do yall let your kids play football?
The collection of responses he got show how complex the issue is for those of us who love the sport, love our kids, and try to reconcile the violence of the one with the positive impacts for the other.
"am struggling w/that subject right now; my son is almost 9 & is BEGGING 2 play; still not sure yet"
"Absolutely. He's 10 & played last 2 years. Played left DE & FB/TE last year. It's rough, but kids learn valuable life lessons. Teamwork, discipline, committment."
"I told my son he has to wait until 6th grade. He does play flag football though. He doesn't like though."
"I wasnt able to play till middle school...i was to big to play in any leagues before that"
"yea he LOVES it. He can't wait to start practicing again. Its the 1 thing that makes him forget video games."
"damm right we play footballl....we bring the noisee!!!!"
One of the RamsHerd faithful, @PikeBishop, sparked further discussion by asking "Do you think there is a benefit to early hitting vs just learning and playing the game to protect any brain/head development?"
@pikebishop i think the injuries are totally inevitable with grown men. i am not as sure about how little kids handle the sport physically.