One thing I am thankful for amid the COVID-19 pandemic is that my son still has the opportunity to play sports. I am and have always been a sports mom. I love watching my kids in their element on the field. I understand that some may disagree and feel that I am putting him in a nearly impossible situation, however, my husband and I have both agreed that for him, allowing him the opportunity to play would not only make him happy it would help his mental health. Only you know what is best for you and your family and only you can make that decision.
When high school seniors were missing prom and graduation my heart hurt for them. I know how important those moments are and it made me sad knowing they were missing out. As summer moved quickly by, I started thinking about athletes and whether they would have the opportunity to play this year. I thought about high school seniors who would be missing their final year of football, those who may be relying on scouting in order to pick up football scholarships. I thought about my own child who was looking forward to trying out for his eighth-grade football team.
We constantly drill into our kids how important exercise is and our overall health. From a young age, we begin to introduce our kids to different sports. My son has always been involved in something ever since he was four years old. From that young age, it’s just generally a way to get our children involved in something to make new friends. If you’re like me it was because you enjoyed screaming your baby’s name on the sideline, and loved seeing them in their cute little uniforms. You know we all have the dream of our littles growing up to be that star athlete someday. When COVID-19 hit, it hit right before my oldest started his second league for flag football — something he does each year his tackle season ends. He’s so used to always being active and involved in something with his friends. From March to July he wasn’t involved in anything. While we appreciated the nice break we could definitely see how much he had been missing fitness, sportsmanship, and being with his teammates.
Physical activity is crucial in the development of our children. I can only speak for my son, but his whole personality changed when he didn’t have football in his life. He missed being part of a team, learning about the fundamentals of the sport, and pushing himself physically. Physical activity provides an outlet for athletes to release built-up tension or to just do something that brings them joy. When I’m stressed out, I go for a run — the same thing goes for my son. When they are missing something that brings them happiness, they experience a full load of emotions. Mental health is just as real and as important for our children as it is adults. We all felt the feeling of isolation when we were confined to our homes while missing our friends and loved ones. I am a very social person, I really struggled with not being around friends. I am someone who is always on the go with a new adventure and when we were strictly isolating ourselves that wasn’t happening. My mental health took a hard hit and I felt withdrawn and depressed. This is the same as my son missing football and his teammates. Exercise releases endorphins which basically gives us a happy boost, it’s similar to runners high. When our children are so used to having that in their lives, it takes a toll on them mentally and emotionally when it’s taken away.
Fortunately, where we live he was able to try out for the eighth-grade football team and he did make the team. His full season of practice and games have already begun and we have already seen such an improvement in his mood and personality. Our league has been taking appropriate safety measures to ensure our kids are protected during practices and games. We have had a long conversation with our son about what is expected from him in regards to appropriately keeping him and his teammates safe. We are a little over two months into our season and we feel one hundred percent happy with our decision. We are so thankful to live in a community the recognizes how important it is for our athletes to have the opportunity to play.