The Challenge of Football

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This weekend can’t come fast enough. The Super Bowl is one of my favorite events, and since it’s so close to my house this year, the excitement is even more palpable. But my love for football goes far beyond rooting for my favorite teams (though I’m happy to do that any day of the week). Watching football – whether it’s pro, college or high school ball – reminds me of the feeling of being down on the field myself.

I played football in both high school and at Harvard. I loved the chance to get outside, be active and nurture my competitive spirit. But even beyond those benefits, being part of those teams taught me an immense about confidence, dedication and teamwork. Believing in my own abilities, supporting my teammates under those bright lights and staying strong through both victory and defeat are not so different at the end of the day from what I need to do underneath the operating room lights.

Watching my son Oliver make his first tackle as a high school freshman was one of the proudest days of my life. I feel that playing football is truly a rite of passage for him, and I hope that he’ll come away with all the lessons I learned, and more.

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Of course, as a father with a son who plays and as a physician, I also worry about making sure that football is as safe as it can be. The short- and long-term effects of repeated concussions are an especially important risk and a serious concern. Teaching our children how to tackle correctly and making sure that we have top-notch football helmets are important steps in the right direction. But we all have to do more to make sure that we are protecting our kids.

Parents, players, coaches and doctors need to be on top of their game to identify concussions quickly and to allow players adequate time and rest to recover. Make sure that you’re informed about the latest research on concussions and how to prevent them here, on our website. You can also turn to these frequently asked questions for more answers. Together, we can all enjoy and learn from this wonderful game and keep our children healthy at the same time.