I am the kind of dad that will support my sons in whatever endeavor they choose to pursue – it doesn’t matter to me if it’s art, programming, dance, baking or puppet shows. I will match every ounce of energy they want to put into what makes them happy. But, while they’re still exploring their options, one of the hobbies I’ve pointed my kids toward is sports. I think sports can be a great part of a balanced childhood.
I didn’t find sports until I was an “older child.” I didn’t play baseball until I was 12. I didn’t join the basketball and football teams until I was a sophomore in high school. But, what I learned through sports over the course of those formative years, fundamentally changed me for the better. So, for me, the opportunity to introduce my kids to sports early on, was something that felt like the right move. Why? Well, if they inherit my athletic ability, they’re not likely headed for the pros, so that’s not why. But no matter their future pursuits, here’s what I hope my kids gain from sports:
I hope they learn to fail
This might sound like a twisted vision for my children. Most parents hope that their children succeed. But, I believe that sports give kids an opportunity to have micro-failures (a bad throw, a strike out, a dropped pass, a missed shot) and understand that failure is not fatal. I believe there is power in overcoming a fear of failure that paralyzes us from succeeding. As counterintuitive as it may seem, learning how to fail is the gateway to learning how to succeed.
I hope they have fun
No brainer, right? Sports should be be fun. When we’re younger, just the activity is fun. As we grow older and develop our athletic abilities, we find fun in exceeding our expectations and in winning. But, sports can provide some of our favorite memories. In the end, I just want them to enjoy the experience. Especially when my kids are younger, they’re just interested in having a good time. Wins and losses don’t matter to them (let’s be honest, they don’t really mean anything in youth sports anyway).
I hope they learn to push their own boundaries
Athletics are a beautiful platform for pushing us beyond our comfort level. They demand that we improve, that we compete and that we exceed our own perceived limits. I can still distinctly remember the moments I exceeded limitations I placed on myself, and the positive impact it had on my confidence. It taught me the value of work ethic and the power of pushing myself. I hope my children learn to do this at an early age.
I hope they make friends
We can develop some of our closest and dearest friendships from the bonds we form in competition. Whether our teammates or respected competitors, we can build friendships that last a lifetime. Your teammates, those you train with and travel with can become a second family. They will also learn how to be a good teammate, and in turn, a good friend.
I hope they are healthy
This one’s a bit of a no-brainer, I suppose. But, I hope that the physical activity keeps them healthy and provides them a positive body image and respect for fitness.
I hope they keep busy
There are a lot of pitfalls for kids, whether it is getting into trouble with too much free time, or becoming a zombie in front of hours of YouTube videos every day. Sports give kids a positive outlet for their time, with the added benefits of all of the aforementioned.