This past Monday was a great day for folks who watch reality shows. First, in the heavily scripted Love & Hip-Hop, Harlem-rapper Jim Jones showed his sensitive side, expressing his love for his long-suffering “fiancé” and concern over his mother’s meddling ways. Then, in next hour of programming, came the re-branding of Atlanta rapper, T.I..
T.I. undoubtedly won over VH1’s audiences with his reality-doc, TI & Tiny: A Family Hustle, which showed, among other things, the benevolent patriarch shun his work-related appointments to make time for his children and wife, Tameka “Tiny” Cottle-Harris. But as much as people want to believe in T.I., which is understandable and highly warrantable, there are dysfunctions that permeate throughout the redemption-themed half-hour show.
First, without getting too deep or “nit-pickity,” the only reason T.I. continues to need this show — and his previous reality shows televised on Viacom’s family of music networks, BET and MTV, respectively — is he continues to make terrible decisions for his family even though, and again understandably, he claims most of his decisions are borne out the fear of clear and present dangers, resulting from the murder of his best friend Philant Johnson.
But the real “crime” of the show — which, I must say, is no fault of his own, considering T.I. may not be well-versed of its medical repercussions — is that two of his sons play football.
Oh no, some may say, what’s wrong with kids playing football? Many men who play professional and collegially exclaim proudly about how much football teaches young boys structure, discipline, sportsmanship, and teamwork. And they are right! Those are all great virtues that football can teach youngsters but they can learn those same qualities on a science team or family camping trip.
Furthermore, many people might say that football helps young and adolescent boys release their aggression in a controlled medium, keeping the violence between the hashes and off schoolyards and out of neighborhoods.
All this is great, but all these positive effects of football pale in comparison to very real threat of concussions.
According to a new report, children who sustain head trauma feel the effects of the trauma years later and much longer than they will with bodily trauma.
Although this news is not surprising, especially since everyone understands that children’s minds are still developing, the research highlights the lack of tools in place to deal with head injuries.
“Right now we have no studies to guide the treatment of post-traumatic headaches in children,” said Karen Barlow at Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary, Canada, who was not involved in the new study.
The scariest and most troubling detail of the report is the ways in which young boys will conceal the nature of their injury in comparison to young girls. Admittedly, researchers are not for certain why young girls report having more headaches than boys, but they claim that it may have to do with how girls brains develop, citing hormones and the nature of girl’s injuries may lead to more headaches.
Football culture, in particular, rewards young boys for gladiator efforts on the gridiron, which comes with internalizing destructive and unhealthy behaviors of “shaking off” big hits and sacrificing one’s body for good of the team.
Even though on the professional levels, the National Football League takes punitive action against overly aggressive play, and now forcibly removes players that exhibit concussive symptoms, the culture forces and honors players who “man-up,” minimizing concussions and other head injuries in order to prove their masculinity.
And as young kids continue to play little league football in front of betting crowds, the pressure to perform may keep youngsters from revealing their injuries.
We have to break football’s mythological narratives that help distort American masculinity. Our society can’t keep allowing young boys to grow up discarding their personal well-being in favor of the hustling.
No one is suggesting that T.I. is abusing his children by sending them to play football, but the violence inherent to tackle football requires extra attention paid to the signs of head trauma.
Because most children imitate adults in every fashion, it will always be very difficult to convince youngsters avoid sacrificing short-term, highly praised reward in favor of living a longer more fruitful lifestyle.
Therefore, it’s on the adults to lead by example and tell youngsters that it’s okay to reveal that they are hurt, hopefully avoiding bad decisions that come from disguising pain, which may lead to undesired, and in a some instances, fatal consequences.
Now that’s the way to have your family hustle smart.