Football — Sometimes It’s a Business

by Lorraine Esposito on August 22, 2012

in You as a person

The obligation of context

NFL head coach of the New York Jets, Rex Ryan, powerfully influences both adults and kids. When Ryan speaks about injuries, we listen—especially when he’s speaking about his son, Seth, a high school football player who suffered a major concussion last season. During his interview on Costas Live, Ryan seemed to discount the significance of his son’s injury, “I want my son to play.  Obviously, if he had another concussion or something like that, I’d address it then.”   He goes on to say, “I look at it as, of course he’s gonna play football, and I’m proud of the fact that my son plays football.”

Powerful Influence of a Professional Coach

Perhaps Seth has fully recovered and medical experts have cleared him for play; it’s hard to say since Ryan didn’t mention it.  By omitting concern for his son’s long term health and safety, he may be powerfully signaling a lack of concern.

Rex Ryan isn’t invited to speak because he’s Seth’s father; he’s expected to show up as a professional NFL coach and talk about the business of winning football games.  Unfortunately, we listen to him as fans and parents.  If he seems to dismiss his son’s concussion, parents and kids are influenced.  If he insinuates that only the tough and courageous are special enough to play football, parents and kids are influenced.

Powerful Influence of Amateur Coaches

Often it’s a generous parent volunteering his or her time as a coach that makes youth sports possible.  Many school districts require completion of some basic training, but in the end, most of the coaches who powerfully influence young athletes are parents.  These amateur coaches are the very parents who are influenced by the Rex Ryan’s of the world.

In the words of Spiderman’s Uncle Ben,

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

Though I personally believe Rex Ryan and others like him have an obligation to help us understand the context of their comments, whether they do or not is out of our hands.   Therefore, parents must continuously remind themselves to filter what they hear.  You are listening to a business person speaking about business.  Whatever is said in that context bears no relationship to Pop Warner football or any other youth sport.

Business is Business

Special people play this sport; not everybody can play this game for whatever reason.  But it’s physical, I think you’ve got to be tough to play it, you’ve got to be tough-minded. – Rex Ryan speaking on NBC Sports Costas Live

Doing Nothing is Hard

After suffering a concussion, patients are told to rest quietly.  They aren’t supposed to entertain their brains with TV, music, or computers.  This is the critical break from activity that allows an injured brain to heal.  It’s hard enough trying to keep kids down without adding the worry that they may be harshly judged as weak or not special.

Keeping the Promise

Parents and the coaches of youth sports are obligated through the promises they made to the kids they coach.  Team sports are heralded as learning and growth opportunities.  We’ve promised to create an environment that teaches sportsmanship, team work, discipline, courage, respect, and other vital life skills.  Keep in mind, encouraging or allowing kids to play through a concussion or other injury doesn’t make good on the promise.

If you find yourself influenced by the comments of a business man, stop and ask yourself how the decision you’re about to make measures up to your promise.  I’m confident that when you do, you’ll choose wisely.

Related Articles:  Kids and Concussions, Bouncy-Springy

Related Tip of the Week:  Integrity, Frustration,



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  • George Visger

    Rex Ryan speaks like a typical frustrated athlete who could never do it himself, and is trying to live vicariously through his son, despite the long term consequences.
    “I want my son to play. Obviously, if he had another concussion or something like that, I’d address it then.” He goes on to say, “I look at it as, of course he’s gonna play football, and I’m proud of the fact that my son plays football.”

    I WANT MY SON TO PLAY??? The question is does your son want to play? Who gives a darn what you want.

    My son was dying to play after hearing my stories of playing on undefeated, nationally ranked high school teams, Orange Bowl in college and on a Super Bowl championship team with the 49er’s. Unfortunately after addressing the carnage my 3 knee surgeries, 9 brain surgeries, fractured C6, C7 and S8 vertebraes, and multiple gran mal seizures have had on ALL our lives, we decided Jack will play other sports.

    Wake up Rex. You are as ignorant as you sound.

    George Visger
    SF 49ers 80 & 81
    Survivor of 9 NFL Caused Emergency VP Shunt Brain Surgeries
    Benefactor of ZERO NFL Benefits

    • Lorraine Esposito


    • Lorraine Esposito

      George, I love your candid comments. Your input is so valuable because you speak from so many vantage points: faith-filled man, gird-iron great, educated, passionate, husband and father. You’ve also experienced the thrill of victory and the price paid to play. You have so much to contribute and I’m happy that you’re not shy about speaking your mind, your wisdom, and your truth. Thank you for sharing with everyone and especially with me.

    • beckyblanton

      George, Thank you for calling a spade a spade! I think Jack, having seen the consequences of your choices, has a perspective few boys do. I agree. Rex does sound frustrated and trying to live vicariously through his son. How sad so many parents do the same. Glad God used your voice to shed some reason on the realities of football for so many.

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