It is a southern tradition, football is a way of life for even the youngest of kids. But could growing concerns about football related concussions put a damper on this southern rite of passage?
"It definitely makes me nervous. I don't want him to get hurt, but he likes to play, so I'm going to let him play as long as he wants to," says concerned mother Stacie Clark.
Mike Long, a coach and parent, says the growing alarm over head injuries on the gridiron are troubling.
"Over the last couple of years, I can honestly say it has crossed my mind about what is in the best interest for him."
This week, the nation's largest youth football organization, Pop Warner, announced an almost 10 percent decrease in player participation over the last two years.
Organizers of the Scenic City Youth League, however, say interest in their product has never been better.
"We've seen an increase this year. Our numbers went up tremendously all around for all of our parks, all around the area. I think we are up about 10-12 teams from what we were last year," said league board member Jason Quails.
The key is staying proactive on the issue and addressing parental concerns.
"We've got more skilled coaches who actually know the proper way to teach the kids. Instead of just putting them on the field and telling them to run here, and tackle here. They are actually teaching proper techniques," Quails says.
Another point of emphasis is equipment. Long says to make a quality investment in headgear.
"You can get by with good sized shoulder pads, but when it comes to the helmet, spend the extra money on the helmet because that is the primary focus. We try to warn them upfront and try to get them prepared."
At the end of the day, parents say they remain cautious, but leave the final decision up to their kids.
"I think as long as they teach them the proper techniques, as far as how to hit, and how to play. He can get hurt doing pretty much anything, but as long as he knows how to do it, then he should be ok," says Clark.
For more information on football and concussions: http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/page/popwarner/pop-warner-youth-football-participation-drops-nfl-concussion-crisis-seen-causal-factor http://usafootball.com/health-safety/concussion-awareness http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/11/can-youth-football-be-saved-and-should-it-be/281536/