My son is crazy about sports. He’s both a participant and an observer: he plays soccer year-round, and he recently took up a bat and glove for the first time. He can also recite for you the numbers corresponding to every sports channel we receive from our cable television provider.

As obsessions go, I approve of this one. I never have to tell this kid to get exercise. He loves his iPod, but he puts it down without complaint for a game, a practice or because he spies a ball in the yard—any kind of ball. Except for the sex-and-violence advertising and the periodic bad-athlete behavior I find myself needing to explain, I don’t even mind the sports-viewing on television. He wants to watch his favorite baseball team? Nothing wrong with that.

But as I watched my son develop an interest in football as he approached adolescence, I grew uneasy. I want him to be able to explore his varied interests and to take chances as he grows up so he can figure out who he is. But I also want him to learn to evaluate risk and make smart decisions, and as I learned more about the long-term effects suffered by football players exposed to repeated helmet-to-helmet collisions, I realized that I couldn’t say yes to the request I knew was coming.

My piece on my son’s request to play football, my refusal to let him and what happened between us as a result continues at The Washington Post’s On Parenting. Hint: he and I tussled over this for a year. It spilled over into other aspects of our lives. Click here to read more.

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