Last week Blogging Baby picked up my post about TheMonk and I watching football. One of the comments the Blogging Baby post got was from “Uncle Roger” who outlined his distaste for sports and what they represent.
In his comment he suggests going for a hike and that checking out girls in bathing suits is better than participating in sports.
Well, Uncle Roger, you picked on the wrong guy. See, it just goes to show how we can jump to conclusions based on what one writes on his or her blog.
What Uncle Roger doesn’t know is that I have a Master’s Degree in Sport Psychology. My thesis was titled “The Socialization of Sport: The Role of the Parent in Pressuring and Supporting Children in Sports.” I did countless hours of research regarding the role of the parent. I witnessed the stereotypical “Little League Parents” who yelled at their children to do better. I witnessed children not wanting to play because they didn’t want their parents to yell at them.
So, yes, parents can be a problem when it comes to sports (The main difference: When adults are questioned why one participates in sports, “To Win” is listed as the number one reason. When children are asked why they play sports , “To Have Fun” is the most common answer – winning doesn’t even make the top five.) but parents can also be a great motivator and facilitator when it comes to participating in and even watching sports.
As for what activities are more or less important? All I can say is as a parent I will expose my child to a wide variety of activities. For example, my wife and I enjoy mountain biking, hiking and camping. Of course we will expose our children to this. I’m a pretty good swimmer and I’ll teach my children to swim. I love to play baseball so we’ll play whiffle ball at the local park. I have coached kids in track and field for a number of years so I’ll show them how to take a handoff and explode from the starting blocks. And yes, I’ll even sit down and watch a game with them. We’ll talk about strategy. We’ll talk about the latest transgression of the local sports star. We might have a conversation about the definition of a hero and whether or not that applies to a guy who gets paid to tackle the quarterback.
My point? Aside from the fact that Uncle Roger pissed me off, it is that sports have a valid place in our society. They have the ability to teach values. They teach young children how to win with humility and lose with pride. They teach us that all competition isn’t necessarily bad. They teach us how to rebound from a disappointing loss to fight again. They teach us that life isn’t all about being serious. It’s about enjoying the smooth swing of a Barry Bonds or the leaping ability of a Michael Jordan. It’s about knowing you pushed yourself to the limit and discovered who you really can be. It’s about loyalty and rooting for the team you grew up with in a day when we change spouses and jobs at the drop of a hat. It’s about a father (or mother!) and son (or daughter!) sitting down together and enjoying each other’s company over a football game.
Uncle Roger, it’s too bad you have this attitude towards sports. Get beyond the beer and peanuts aspect of it and our children can learn alot.
(By the way, that “abomination they built in downtown SF” was paid for by private money and is helping revitalize a part of town you wouldn’t have stepped foot in 10 years ago. )
Okay, I feel much better now.