Parents of young football players everywhere are questioning letting their kids go out for the sport after a tragedy in Georgia. Teenager De'Antre Turman, a star football player at Creekside High School who was already being scouted by college teams, died during a football scrimmage on Friday night. The healthy 16-year-old was making a tackle when onlookers said his body went limp.
In an instant, De'Antre was gone, his neck broken.
The story of the young boy's death has quickly gone viral, and understandably so.
No one wants to see this happen to their child, and with an estimated one million kids playing high school football in America, the Turman family's tragedy is one that hits home in a lot of households.
For at least a few moments, after I read about De'Antre's story, I'll admit I breathed a sigh of relief that my daughter is not particularly athletic, and that the sport she does play -- soccer -- does not involve a lot of contact (at least not at the AYSO level).
It's a reaction I'm sure a fair amount of parents had. Others, parents of kids who do have an interest in football or whose kids are already playing the sport, are debating pulling their kids away.
No one wants this to be their child.
And yet? A reality check, if I may?
There's no reason to change anything you're doing, at least not if you're already following proper safety precautions with your football playing kids.
Do they wear pads? Helmets? Follow the rules? Then don't worry.
Accidents like the one that claimed the life of an otherwise healthy 16-year-old boy on Friday night are rare. According to the data, there are approximately four fatalities a year directly related to football -- and those cover every level from sandlot play to high school to college to the NFL. The rate of direct fatalities in high school (grades 9-12) was 0.18 per 100,000 participants.
Every single death is tragic, yes. My heart breaks for De'Antre's family.
But simply because one child died playing football doesn't mean we need to pull every kid out of the sport. Your kid is much more likely to be killed in a car accident (motor vehicle accidents are the LEADING cause of death for kids 3 to 14 in the US) than fatally injured on the football field. When was the last time you considered banning your kid from riding in cars?
This is one of the hard parts of being a parent. Sometimes our kids do things that carry some risk, and we have to just let them do it so they can actually have joy in their lives, so they can grow as people. It's not easy, and stories like De'Antre's make it even harder, but we can't parent with kneejerk reactions. We have to parent with common sense, with the ability to look at the facts and measure out what's right.
Do you let your kids play football? Will this tragedy change that?