Smart Choices

May 31, 2010
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When I was young it wasn’t too typical for an Indian boy to play football because our parents were very cautious. Starting at such a young age and being the first generation to be born in America, my family wanted me to focus more on my studies rather than sports. Now you tell me, what’s wrong with that statement? Were they trying to look out for me, or were they just not used to an American boy’s lifestyle yet?

Sports were what I grew up on. Growing up in an Indian home our lifestyle was different from an American lifestyle. In an Indian home, things were schedule based.. From what I saw, many kids didn’t hang out with their parents like we did. For example, in my house, we ate dinner everyday with our parents till we were in college. We also did our prayers around six o’clock every night by lighting a fire and facing North or East saying our special prayers we have, which took almost an hour. The biggest difference was our diet though. Our diet consisted of no meat, eggs, or fish because of religious beliefs. So now back to sports, I loved watching football, basketball, and baseball. My mom and dad were so tied up to me that I didn’t get to have fun till I was about ten years old. You can say they just wanted to wait for me to get older. I loved all sports. More than that, I loved any game involving a ball. So football was the biggest concern with my family. When I say family, I didn’t just mean my parents. I meant my uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents also. Everybody was scared for me to play because they didn’t want me to get hurt. So here was in the fifth grade, I was huge! Not a single kid messed with me or said anything to me. Finally, my parents let me play basketball. I didn’t have a bad game. My team took second place in the entire league. We were so good.

So you know how I said my family was really cautious with me because they didn’t want me to get injured? I didn’t. The first two years of basketball I didn’t get hurt once. Not even a jammed finger. Knock on wood I still won’t.
Here came middle school and the seventh grade. I was about thirteen years old. My parents finally caved in after a huge conversation with my coach and other parents of my friends. I got to play football for the first time! Let me tell you, it was the greatest feeling in the world. My adrenalin was pumping like no other. I was ready to hurt somebody in pads, and put them on the floor. That summer I did the entire summer camp for the Falcons. I was on the All-American team which consisted of kids heavier than 165 pounds. I worked my ass off, trying to get a starting spot as a first year. I ran my heart out in sprints and never jumped before the whistle was blown.

“Run. Don’t quit. Finish strong!” I told my self.

Summer camp lasted for two months in the soaring heat. We didn’t wear pads at the time, just helmets. You can see puddles in the players’ helmets after practice because it was so hot and by how much we put into every down.

Later in August, I got my pads. That was the day I knew it was game time and I should get ready to kick some butt.

“Here we go boys,” Coach said before every practice.

We went through the first week of practice and we were did big things. The coaches were still trying to figure out positions for some kids. So here we were in week three. We had two more weeks till our first game. I still hadn’t got a starting spot. Later in the week, my coach told me I was starting at guard and defensive end. That was one of the greatest days of my life. I had never felt so happy. This made my mom even more worried because I was going to play every game now.

During practice at night we were practicing tackling. I was up against out best player because I was the only one with the guts to go against him. Frank was an animal, and still is. The coach blew the whistle. I was going for him and he was running at me. I was only thinking aim for legs. He nailed me above the hips. I fell on my back and for a second I didn’t feel a single thing. After a second I saw my arm was broken. It was the worst pain a kid could ever have.

“My arm, my arm, my arm! It’s broken coach!” I screamed.

Later coach called my house to tell my mom. Let me tell you, this was the fastest I have ever seen my mom run. She ran on the field so fast.

I went to the hospital and I was in the emergency room for over an hour. The doctors were trying to put my wrist back in place. They said I had a compound fracture with my radius and ulna. Doctor told me they pretty much switched spots. I was in the emergency room with a broken arm and the doctors didn’t numb it. I felt everything. It felt like a car running over your arm, over and over again. I was awful. I had tears going down my face of pain like a waterfall. Thank God my uncle was working in the emergency room that night because he got me in right away.

So what do you think, was my family right on me playing football? Should I have taken the risk of playing?

I was back in six weeks and my parents let me finish the season. Nobody else in my family wanted me too. They thought I was the stupidest kid ever. I didn’t care what they thought because football was my life for almost seven months and I wasn’t going to let an injury get in the way of it. After five weeks I got my cast off. My arm needed heeling and therapy. I choose not to do it because my season would be done by then. I had extra padding on my right arm after that. The first day I came back to practice, coach put me back in defense. He had so much faith in me thinking I can really do something with football. He gave me the greatest support.

My first game of the entire season I started, rocking number seventy on my jersey. It was a great feeling. In my first game I recorded five tackles and a sack. Also on offense I didn’t let a single player go through me. I knew I was back and stronger mentally. I only got better after that. I felt a hundred percent even though I had pain in my wrist. You know what they say, no pain no game.

So here came the second to last game of the regular season. I was on defense and we were defending our goal line. I got cut blocked and fell on my back in an awkward way. I couldn’t get up for a few minutes. I didn’t want to let my teammates down again. I tried to play it off. I only had one tackle after that fall. I knew something was wrong but didn’t want to tell my coach during the game. After the game I did tell him. The next day I went to go get X-rays at the hospital and the doctor told me I had a severe back strain.

I couldn’t walk. I didn’t go to school for two days because of it.

Hurting my back was even worse than breaking my wrist. The doctor told me if I didn’t stop it can have an effect on me until I am old. I finished my last game. I wasn’t going to quit. I finished with my best game yet. I played almost every down and on special teams.

It felt awesome!

So here came high school. My back was still hurting and my arm was sometimes giving me pain. My parents said if I wanted to play I could. I did the entire freshmen camp. After, it was my decision to go on with football or just stop.
What do you think my family said?

I wanted to play, but I couldn’t risk another injury to my back. I officially stopped my football career. Was it a good idea? I don’t know. I ask myself that question almost every season. The positives were I focused more on school and my family didn’t worry. The negatives were I didn’t get a state ring and a chance to show my skills to higher levels. When I play football with friends and family they see me as a player that knows everything because I do. I proved it to them every year when we had our family games.

I still supported every game. Playing football didn’t mean I couldn’t cheer for my team and give support. If I got asked that question on stopping football a few years from now, I think I would say I made a good choice because football wasn’t going to decide on my career. I didn’t risk my back to injury. Playing sports was a great thing to do, but it wasn’t meant for everybody; even if you were good at it.

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