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Would you let your kids play violent sports? Two parents weigh in

There’s not one way to parent, so we asked two moms to share their views on letting children play violent sports


Original story in Toronto Star. Read online here

Why I will let my kids play violent sports — Kristen Thompson

I’m as worried about my kids’ safety as the next parent. But I also know that they need to take risks if they are going to learn and grow, and that all exercise comes with the potential for injury.

For that reason, I won’t limit what sports my children are allowed to play, and if they show an interest in, say, football or martial arts, I will do all I can to support that passion, while coaching them to play safe. Because hockey, specifically, is such an important part of my husband’s life, I’ll be signing my kids up as soon as they are old enough to join the Timbits league.

Sure, there are inherent dangers in all sports. And some — when played at an elite level by adults — can be more dangerous than others. But is that a reason to forbid them from enrolling in that activity as kindergartners?

Let’s be realistic. Of the tens of thousands of kids who play hockey in Canada every year, a very small percentage will make it to the pros. And an even smaller percentage will play like the Scott Stevens or Donald Brashears of the world.

Yes, there’s occasionally fighting in NHL hockey (for now). Yes, I think it’s stupid. But I can’t convince myself that that’s reason enough to ban my children from playing in the sport — or any sport that might be deemed “aggressive” — as youngsters.

I will allow my children to try their hand at anything they express interest in, regardless of whether I find it interesting, worthwhile, or valuable.

I want to my kids to engage in activities that build character — that teach them to be part of a team, to keep their bodies healthy, to set personal goals, to be gracious in defeat and victory, and to treat their coaches and opponents with respect.

Our beautiful national pastime seems like a great place to start.


Why I will not let my kid play violent sports — Tracey Tong

Our daughter Millicent is 14 months old. She’s spirited and fearless and even though she’s not walking yet, we’re dreaming about what sort of activities are in store for her when she’s bigger.

He approves baseball. I’m thinking swimming. We can both agree on soccer. We’ve also decided on no violent sports.

In this context, there are two kinds of sports: violent sports by design, and sports where violence can happen. We’re talking about the former — sports like mixed martial arts and boxing, where the intent is to injure.

The Hospital for Sick Children gets 50,000 children and their families coming through its doors each year. Many of these visits are for illnesses, but others are for injuries. Childhood can be dangerous enough — why would any parent put a child in a sport where he or she would not only potentially, but likely, be hurt?

One could argue that aggressive sports teach kids focus, mental and physical toughness, resilience, discipline, commitment, and the value of competition as a catalyst to success, but there are plenty of other ways to teach these life skills, without making your kid someone else’s punching bag. Obviously, every activity carries some kind of risk, but injuries are the exception, rather than the rule.

What if, years from now, little Millie begs to give boxing a whirl? We’re not out to raise a bubble baby, but there’s a difference between allowing Millie to take her lumps and intentionally putting her into harm’s way. So the answer will still be no. While Millie is under our care, we are in charge of her safety and well-being. Dabbling in violence is just not an option.

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