Tell me it isn’t so … football season is upon us! I thought summer was just getting cranked up. The dead period is over and it’s here!

Don’t get me wrong. I love it. I’ve said too many times that I’ll quit my day job before I quit football. Too many birthdays have meant that I’ve had to make some accommodations. Like running onto the football field. Not. Gonna. Happen.

I’ve decided that it is probably time to get one of those knee replacement things. As soon as football season is over, which I hope is some time in December.

So … you are the parent of a high school football player. Maybe it’s the first time. Maybe you’re a veteran. Here are some things that might help it be a better season for you.

Your son (or daughter — we’re talking football here but the same basic concepts cross gender lines) has several coaches and only one set of parents. It seems such a cliché but your child needs for you to be a parent.

That means loving them unconditionally, supporting them in everything they do. And don’t disparage their coach. And don’t yell at the referees. And show up for their games. And. And. And.

You get the picture. It really is quite easy to understand. Your child needs you but if you let them define how they need you, then it will work out well for all of you.

Get injuries checked. Around here, at the high school level and, to a certain degree, the junior high level an athletic trainer is readily available. For high school football, one of our (Total Rehab) athletic trainers is always there for practices, scrimmages and all games. That’s because of the number of athletes that are on every team and because of the nature of the game.

You’ll also find our athletic trainers at a lot of other games and events. It’s what we do and we made that commitment to our local schools a long time ago.

We also open our doors at Cherokee every morning at 7 to check injuries among athletes. We bring all of our athletic trainers in to Cherokee for that purpose. Ortho Tennessee-Maryville (formerly Maryville Orthopedic Clinic) also comes in early and will see those athletes that our athletic trainers have determined need an orthopedic evaluation.

To make it clear, that service is provided to all of the schools that we serve and is intended for both high school and junior high athletes.

Stay in the present. Enjoy it while it is going on. I’ve enjoyed youth sports with the grandkids far more than their parents. I can sit back and enjoy the games and don’t feel in the least compelled to yell at the umpire, worry if they’re good enough, or question the coach. I can even laugh when a grandson runs to the dugout when he was told to go home. (He was on third base).

Lay off the officials. They’re not perfect. They make mistakes. Yet, they are an essential part of every game. We cannot do it without them. Try this: Imagine that referee is your son or daughter. How would you want them treated? Exactly!

Enjoy the process. Blink your eyes and these days will be gone. Done well, with positive family support, sports can be one of the best things you can do in your life.

Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Total Rehabilitation and is Manager of Outpatient Rehabilitation for Blount Memorial Hospital. Email joeblackdpt@gmail.com to write to him.

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