Football and Child Custody: When Extracurriculars Come Front and Center in a DivorceThe recent discoveries linking an Alzheimer’s-like disease to football and other heavy contact sports have some parents worried about how safe it is for their kids to play football at young ages. Dr. Bennet Omalu, the doctor and brain researcher credited with discovering the disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) was quoted in a story in Sports Illustrated saying that allowing children to play football is the equivalent of child abuse. “Someday there will be a district attorney who will prosecute for child abuse [on the football field], and it will succeed. It is the definition of child abuse.” Omalu went on to say that when a child plays football there is 100% risk exposure, and there is nothing that will make football safer.

Some parents read the headlines about the professional football players who sued the NFL because of the brain damage they suffered from repeated concussions, and how the injuries to their brain are having a lasting negative impact on their quality of life, relationships and their ability to function, and they want to protect their children from that outcome. When parents are divorced and sharing custody of their child, this issue can erupt into a serious debate. Until the child turns 18-years-old and can make their own decisions, parents have the responsibility to make choices in the child’s best interests.  If one parent feels strongly that they do not want their child to be exposed to the dangers of concussion, but the other parent wants their child to play football, they must find a way to come to an agreement.

There is a case making its way through the courts in Pennsylvania where the father does not want his son to continue playing football after having already played for a decade and suffered three concussions. A story in the New York Times describes the dispute between the parents who share legal custody of the boy. The mother believes that the boy should be able to make his own decision, and that the benefits of playing football outweigh the risks. Despite all the time and effort spent on trying to stop the boy from playing football will have been of no effect as the clock is running out on the father. The boy turns 18 in November and he will be able to choose for himself to finish his senior year football season and whether he wants to go on to play ball in college.

Maryville co-parents who may disagree about whether their son or daughter should play football can work with a family law attorney and resolve their differences in mediation. If mediation does not bring about a resolution, the parties can go to court and have a judge make the call.

Shepherd and Associates, P.C. is here for you when you are facing any kind of family law dispute. Our talented team of Maryville child custody attorneys want to help you resolve your differences and preserve the relationships as much as possible. You can find out about what we do for our clients by calling 865.225.9655, or filling out our contact form.



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