Holly, my wife, recently asked me to author a guest post for her blog. She wanted a father’s perspective on raising kids. While we enjoy a pretty traditional marriage when it comes to our roles and responsibilities, we are both very involved in our children’s extracurricular activities. In our house, that’s sports!
My boys play 3-4 sports each…one for each season and, in the case of our eldest son, he plays 2 sports in the spring…baseball and soccer. Even our little girl prefers sports to other activities and has played soccer since she’s been 3. We love it! They love it! It’s our family’s rhythm and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Scroll down to read why sports matter.
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So why do we encourage it and spend so much of our family’s time and money on this. It’s certainly not because we’re betting on professional sports careers or full tuition scholarships. Instead, we believe that there is no better way to teach your children life’s toughest lessons than through the medium of athletics.
Why Sports Matter
1. Give a “Perfect Effort”.
You don’t have to be perfect, but you must always give a “perfect effort”. That’s a borrowed line from one our family’s favorite movies, When the Game Stands Tall. When I first heard that line in the movie, it struck a chord with me and I have quoted it often. I use it in pep talks to my kids even when sports aren’t the topic. Like life, sports are hard…especially once they progress past T-Ball and Flag Football.
When a score is kept and winning matters, they feel their failures. It’s no different in life, you’re not always going to win every sales pitch or conquer all life’s curveballs. You’re not going to get every promotion or land every job.
But, I tell them, you’ll never win consistently, unless you always deliver your best effort. And while your best effort will occasionally fall short of achieving ultimate success, if you’ve given a “perfect effort”, then you’ll be able to walk away with your head high knowing you did everything possible.
2. You Must Earn It!
My eldest son has rack in his room for his medals and trophies. On the rack the following is engraved: “Always Earned, Never Given”. The only medals or trophies on that rack, by his choice, are those that were earned…he refuses to display his awards that we’re not earned, like those the “Y” gives to every team after the season regardless of record.
Having to earn these awards has given him a sense of accomplishment and a source of pride. But more importantly, he is learning a critical life lesson: Anything worth having, sports or other, requires hard work and dedication to that craft.
This is a lesson I hope he’ll take with him when he enters a brutal and competitive work force as he becomes a man.
3. There is no “I” in “Team”.
Sure, it’s an overused cliché, but that doesn’t make it any less valid or important. While all of my kids are primarily team athletes (meaning they play team sports), I believe this still applies to individual sports like wrestling, swimming, or track because those events still have team points.
I have been working for over 15 years in the business world with small and large companies. Regardless of the product or the company, teamwork has been a critical component for success. Teams only work when the members have a sense of accountability to each other. And I think this is best learned at an early age through the medium of sports.
If you’re selfish and only care about your individual performance, eventually the team will ostracize you no matter your talents. But more importantly, winning is so much better when you celebrate with others and losing more bearable when you can lean on others.
One of my favorite moments as a father was when my son missed a tackle in a playoff game. The coach lit him up because it led to a touchdown; however, his teammates were there to pick him up with pats on the rear and bumps to the helmet as he walked off the field.
His head was a little higher as he sat on the bench waiting for another chance. We all win and we all lose, but rarely do we do it alone.
There are so many other reasons to get your sons and daughters out on the field or on the court, these are just some of my favorites. We’d love to hear your thoughts too.
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