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The Broad View: Football for Small-Brained Neanderthals?



Dear Ladies,

My son will enter high school next year and wants to try out for high school football.  My wife is adamantly opposed and denigrates the game to him by calling it a game for small-brained Neanderthals.   It has seemed to me for a number of years that she has attacked verbally, in ways both subtle and not so subtle, anything he might show an interest in doing with other males other than what she calls being a “gentleman.”  I think that it is very important that he learn to respect others whether they be male or female and that he also learn the numerous differences between the genders.  I recognize that football can be dangerous but I also feel in my heart that it would be a good thing for him to give the game a try.  What are your thoughts?

Frustrated Dad

Dear Frustrated Dad,

I applaud your involvement.  It sounds as if you have attempted anything that you can think of to involve your wife in a true discussion about your concerns for your son and your perception of her denigration of his interests.  I would suggest that you and your wife engage a therapist who can help both of you unearth the underlying issues that make a true discussion impossible.  Football can be dangerous.  A good and adequate coach is a must.  It can also be a very good experience for many young people.  All sports involve some risk as does driving, taking a train, and most life activities.  Please do talk to a professional.


Hi Frustrated Dad,

You and your wife seem to have other issues and lack of communication. As far as football goes you might attempt to engage your son in conversation to find out how he really feels about the game. He may feel pressure to appease you or your wife as he is caught in the middle. Even though you may feel strongly about the situation, back off and let him know his decision is his own and it’s fine with you. If that is not the case, he should let his mother know what he wants to do and ask for her permission or her reasoning for a refusal which may sound lame even to her, once it is verbally expressed.

As a last resort, why not throw a football around with your son for starters and develop it into a game of touch football with his friends. This is more of a watered down football, not that strenuous so it might appeal to your wife. Who knows you might all enjoy it with you and your wife weighing in and ending up throwing the ball to /at each other thus alleviating those aggressions


Maryanne is a 45-year Huntington resident with lots of grown children and more grandchildren than she can count on her fingers and toes (no, she isn’t missing any digits). She’s third generation Irish, raised in Brooklyn and a big fan of chocolate, Halloween and Subarus.

Vera has been a psychotherapist for over 30 years and drives a Subaru. She’s an out-of-towner with Huntington relatives. She lives in the mountains is a mother and grandmother, . Vera asked us to remind our readers that every situation is unique and complicated; explore your situation in detail with your psychotherapist and/or your physician.

If you have a question you’d like us to pose to Maryanne & Vera please send us a note with “Broad View Question” in the subject line to

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1 comment to The Broad View: Football for Small-Brained Neanderthals?

  • Richard

    As a youngster I played football, basketball and baseball. The most serious injuries happened playing football. The head and the spine are never as vulnerable in other sports as they are in football. In addition, helmets designed better than ever, are now used as weapons to hit the opposing player. There are more concussions in football and you don’t always recover from them, unlike knee or shoulder injuries from other sports. Maybe Mama’s concern is about football?

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