My son has shown interest in playing rugby union with his friends. To this point I have flatly refused, as I worry about him injuring himself and logistically we simply can’t add another Saturday sport to our already busy roster. He instead plays basketball and indoor soccer on weekdays to get his sporting fix.
Last weekend whilst watching my daughter play soccer, there was a teenage game of rugby being played on the field behind us.
Before the teams played, they huddled together in a circle and started some ritualistic caveman-like grunting and yelling that I assume was designed to psych out the other team, but as the other team were doing the same it seemed lost on them. However, I must admit that so much testosterone-filled shouting in one small space startled me a little!
Once they took to the field, these kids (in adult size bodies) started smashing into each other and then piling on top of one another. I don’t know the finer rules of this game, but I know enough that these are called rucks, so called I assume because the boys use their studded boots to try to ruck the ball out of the pile of bodies. Too bad if your face, arm or body are in the way at this time!
Cringing at the violent nature of this game I was shocked to hear parents on the sidelines calling out things like ‘show more aggression’, ‘kill ‘em’ and ‘man up’. Surely as parents, we are better to be cheering ‘go team’, rather than ‘kill ’em’. Our kid’s aren’t gladiators – they are just playing a game of football!
The tipping point for me was when two boys clashed heads and were both rendered unconscious. While they lay there unmoving, I heard a boy call out to his teammates to leave them alone, as being unconscious proved that they didn’t know how to play the game very well.
Sick to my stomach to see these kids suffering from brain injuries that left them lying lifeless for a few minutes, coupled with the complete lack of empathy for their situation, cemented my resolve that I don’t want to encourage my son to play this sport. The thought that one day my son could be that boy lying unconscious on the ground sent shivers down my spine. I honestly don’t see the need for aggression in kid’s sport. Personally I am all for non-contact sport that requires effort and skill not aggression!
What are your thoughts?
(Picture courtesy of Vectorolie, freedigitalphotos.net)