Kids Motherhood

When Another Kid Is A Poor Sport And It Hurts My Kid

When Another Kid Is A Poor Sport And It Hurts My Kid
Written by Julie Hoag

My son loves football. The season is almost upon us again and those fears of what other kids will do to him rattles my nerves already. I’m afraid of what the kids who are poor sports will do to him. He has been the victim of unsportsmanlike behavior that has enraged this mama bear to the edge. It has taken all my restraint to not go ballistic.

Kids get riled up and they might go too far, and I get that. But when it’s a blatant act of intent to do harm, my blood boils. It boils for any kids I see who are the victim of an intentional angry act but when it’s my own kid, it really curdles my blood. I wonder what their parents and coaches are teaching them or not teaching them when they act out of brutality.

When my son was in fourth grade he loved to run the ball as a running back. He was a fast runner, one of the fastest in his grade and with his thin muscular frame this position was a perfect fit for him. In a mid-October game, his team was playing a particularly rough team whose parents shouted from the sidelines saying things like “Kill ‘em!” and other phrases I think should never come out of parents’ mouths like “Slam ‘em down!” or “Knock ‘em dead!” The parent spectators on our team’s side were tame and more encouraging. We’d shout “Go Johnny!” or “Good play!” or “Way to go!” Well let’s just say the kids on the team we were playing matched the parent brutal comments.

One kid in particular was being unnecessarily aggressive. He had hit hard enough to make three of our team players sit out. According to the kids, this player was being downright brutal and mean. The refs didn’t pull him from the game, but I wish they would have because his next brutal move hurt my child. Tackle football is rough, that’s a given. But there is a correct and good sportsmanlike way to tackle and there’s an illegal way to tackle. He charged at my son and speared my son from the side leading with his head. His helmet slammed into my son’s helmet knocking my son to the ground. He didn’t even see him coming.


Our coach screamed, “Hey! You can’t tackle like that! That’s illegal.” He was steaming mad.

My son crumpled to the ground and I could hear him crying from the sidelines. He doesn’t usually cry when tackled so I knew damage had been done. He sat on the sidelines for a while. He seemed fine and even said he felt fine. The refs finally pulled brutal kid from the game. It took four kids sitting out for injuries for the refs to pull this kid from the game. But the harm was already done and it couldn’t be undone.

My son went back into the game so I figured he must be feeling fine. The coaches had assessed him and deemed him OK to return to the game. It wasn’t until after the game when he told my husband and I that he had a headache when he went back into the game. I got a sick feeling in my gut. Being a nurse, I knew immediately we might have a serious problem.

The headache didn’t go away; it was still there the next morning. I called the pediatrician. I got the dreaded request from the doctor to take him in for assessment for a concussion. Our appointment was for the next day. We saw signs of concussion in him in addition to the headache. He was clumsy and would just fall down laughing and being silly. He had trouble sleeping and was irritable. Ibuprofen didn’t alleviate his headache either.

The doctor told us he had a mild concussion. He had to sit out of football playoffs, out of gym, and even out of recess for over a month. No physical activity at all. He’s an active kid, so this was so hard for him. He was given only 50% of the schoolwork to allow his brain to heal. He was assigned physical therapy to re-establish balance.

We later heard the child who hurt him was told how he his spearing illegal hit resulted in a concussion and he cried. Nice sentiment, but he couldn’t undo what he had done.

The next year in football my son was running the ball again in a game and was the victim of harming unsportsmanlike behavior again. His team was winning by a lot like twenty to zero. The other team was mad about it. The players were stomping on our kids’ hands when they were down, kicking them in the back, and face-masking (which is when a player grabs the metal face mask and pulls which is illegal and can cause significant harm). My son had the ball and he was within six feet of making a touchdown when he was tackled. He got up as usual.

The coach called a time out and I saw streams of brown down my son’s cheeks. At that point I didn’t know what had happened, I thought perhaps he was crying because he was hurt. He shook it off and went back into the game. He made the touchdown and then he told us the full story.

The player on the other team was so furious, he had picked up a handful of dirt and threw it in my son’s eyes while he was still lying on the ground. This made it look like he was crying. The dirt caused his eyes to water which made him lose his contacts out on the field. But he was determined to not let that stop him. He went back into the game without contacts. With a dirt and tear stained face, he made that touchdown.

I’d never been so proud of him in my life. He didn’t let the other player stop him. He kept going and he succeeded. 

It’s truly a rough sport but he loves it and though it makes me nervous with all the kids out there who play dirty, I’m happy to say it doesn’t stop my son. He keeps fighting the good fight. He follows the rules, he doesn’t get thrown out of games for illegal moves, and he honors the goodness of the sport.

As a parent, I wish all parents and coaches would teach their kids that hurting someone in not worth any win. It’s just a game and hurting someone is not OK. When kids aren’t taught to be good sports, no one wins.


About the author

Julie Hoag

Julie Hoag is a freelance writer and blogger, wife, and mom to three busy boys, & fur mama to two rescue dogs and two guinea pigs. She writes on her blog about motherhood, kids, family, recipes, DIY, travel, and faith. She is a vegetarian who loves to cook and create recipes when she’s not driving her three boys all over town to sports practices in her crumb-filled minivan. In her past life she has worked as a Scientist and Medical Data Manager, a pediatric nurse, and a SAHM. She loves to volunteer in her kids’ schools and help fundraise money for their schools. She is a Christian who loves nature, animals, traveling, gardening, swimming in her pool, and simply spending time with her family. Her favorites are dark chocolate, red wine, and cheese with yummy bread.


  • We are about 2 weeks out from football practice and though my son loves it, and we love watching him, I say a prayer for him and all the kids each time they are on that field. Concussions are scary and I’m so sorry you and your son went through it. But I love to hear about your son’s determination and sportsmanship. My husband continuously remind our son that these things and respect are the most important aspects of any sport. Wishing a safe and fun season!

    • I say prayers each time too:) Concussions are so scary and they can have lasting effects. I totally agree with you! I hope you have a fun safe season also! Thanks for your comment!

  • Good sportsmanship is not taught as much as it used to be that’s for sure! Your son sounds like a boy of integrity and honor. I’m glad for parents like you who teach the importance of playing fair!

    • Thank you for your comment! I agree, good sportsmanship isn’t stressed enough. I love it when my kids get coaches who really focus on it. Thank you!

  • I have a love/hate relationship with football. My son has been injury-free so far but I’m always afraid. I really enjoyed your post!

    • I also have a love/hate relationship with it. I love to watch him play it and I love that he is able to play a sport he loves, but it is scary with the potential for injury. I try to remind myself they can potentially get hurt in so many ways, like skiing down a hill or riding their bike. Thanks so much for your comment!

  • I thank God I have daughters and not son’s. Although a good fall from a horse did give my daughter a concussion and a broken collar bone. Football is just one pounding after another and I fear it will never be made safe enough to stop permanent injury later in life. Risk v reward calculation I guess.

    • Yes, I know where you are coming from, it’s a love it and hate it at the same time type of game. There are pros and cons to it just like anything else. I know injuries can happen in everyday life as well as with as with any sport or activity. We buy the best helmet out there to protect him as he loves to play. I am fearful of injury but I know he could get injured from skiing or while biking so I try to keep that in perspective too. Thanks so much for your comment!