THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID

GA Voice - - Outspoken - By MELISSA CARTER

You have heard about moth­ers mak­ing sac­ri­fices for their chil­dren, and the sto­ries usually in­clude some form of hero­ics. A woman lifts a car off of her baby or for­goes wear­ing a coat so her lit­tle one can stay warm. Mine is not as dra­matic but cer­tainly im­pact­ful since it in­volves let­ting go of some­thing that has been a large part of my life for quite a while.

I re­cently watched the movie “Con­cus­sion” on cable. Star­ring Will Smith, the movie tells the story of foren­sic pathol­o­gist Dr. Ben­net Omalu and his dis­cov­ery of chronic trau­matic en­cephalopa­thy in for­mer NFL play­ers and the dangers of foot­ball-re­lated head trauma. It is his work that has in­spired mod­ern ath­letes from a va­ri­ety of sports to do­nate their brains upon death to fur­ther the re­search. Nor­mally, I would just view this film as im­por­tant his­tor­i­cal content but now that Mr. Carter is here, I took it deeper than that.

Mr. Carter is just now turn­ing 2 but has al­ready been deemed a tall man. He is ex­pected to be well over 6-feet tall, which means he will likely get the attention of coaches at school. Of course, it is far too soon to de­ter­mine whether or not my son will even be in­ter­ested in sports but if what my male friends have said is true it won’t mat­ter. Coaches will ap­proach him any­way and it will rest on him to an­swer the call. If Mr. Carter doesn’t want to be an ath­lete, he’ll say no. If he does, he may be will­ing to try them all. The lat­ter sce­nario is what I want to make sure I in­flu­ence in the right way.

I am a proud grad­u­ate of the Uni­ver­sity of Ten­nessee. While on cam­pus I at­tended sev­eral sport­ing events, but the ma­jor­ity of my para­pher­na­lia at home rep­re­sents UT foot­ball. From a framed jer­sey to repli­cas of foot­ball hel­mets, it is ev­i­dent that foot­ball has long been my fa­vorite sport. Un­til now. How can I cheer loud­est for the guys at Ney­land Sta­dium in front of my son, yet tell him he is not al­lowed to play the game?

I am a be­liever that in­di­rect in­flu­ence by par­ents is more ef­fec­tive than di­rectly lec­tur­ing to a child, so I have de­cided that other sports must over­take foot­ball as a pri­or­ity in my house. I took down the framed jer­sey and do­nated it to Chil­dren’s Health­care of At­lanta, and will re­place it with a Pat Sum­mit trib­ute. I have pur­chased more Braves at­tire and have soc­cer balls in the house. I will re­turn to the sport I played as a stu­dent, ten­nis, and will make the feel of a hard­court as fa­mil­iar to him as it was to me. I will still cheer for my Vol­un­teer foot­ball team, but just not as ex­clu­sively as be­fore.

I know I am not the only fac­tor in my child’s life, and he will make his own de­ci­sions on what his pref­er­ences are. As his mother, his safety is sup­posed to be my top pri­or­ity, and if I be­come the mother of an ath­lete I’d much rather mend a bro­ken leg or busted knee than ac­tively con­trib­ute to the de­struc­tion of his beau­ti­ful mind.

Melissa Carter is one of the Morn­ing Show hosts on B98.5. In ad­di­tion, she is a writer for the Huff­in­g­ton Post. She is rec­og­nized as one of the first out ra­dio per­son­al­i­ties in At­lanta and one of the few in the coun­try. Fol­low her on Twit­ter@Melis­saCarter

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