There is nothing like a Friday night spent watching a high school football game. The people who come out to cheer for the team will tell you a lot about the character of the community. It is truly a grand event and worthy of your attendance.
All too often I hear comments about sports that really miss the mark. Most of these comments come from the parents of teens that I am working with or someone I meet in a court mandated program. Their comments make me realize that, not only do parents not understand the value of sports, but their children are denied one of the most valuable learning experiences available to youth in our culture.
The two most common comments I hear are, “He likes it” or “It keeps him busy”. Although both comments are probably true, neither one comes close to comprehending the importance of participating in a sport.
First of all– life is not about what we like. Very few people go to work because we like it. Most us go out of a sense of responsibility. As we mature life gets busier and busier. If anything, life becomes a search for balance. Soon after we enter the workforce we find ourselves balancing career, home, chores, family, civic duties, and self. If anything, we are in a struggle to be responsible while simultaneously fighting to not lose ourselves.
Second– staying busy is a good thing, but what is more important is to stay busy doing good things. We can pack our day and stay busy with very selfish activities, none of which will make us into productive citizens. Playing endless hours of video games, hanging around with friends, texting until the wee morning hours will not help us in the working world of adulthood. Although socializing is good, it too must be kept in check.
The job of parenting is to raise our children to be productive citizens. So, what does any of this have to do with sports?
Here is a little background: my wife and I raised four children. Between the four of them they played 14 different sports. Most of their friends were also highly athletic. Sports taught them many intangible qualities they have carried into the work force. These are the sorts of character-building qualities and traits that define leaders.
From the beginning, we realized that sports is the one place in the world where the results of hard work are immediately seen. However, there were many other traits our children learned, such as: work ethic, leadership skills, responsibility, the importance of following rules, structure, communication, decisiveness, time management, selflessness, and getting along with people who were very different from them.
As my children were growing up and we were busy running to practice or a game we had other adults, mostly parents, who scoffed at us and questioned whether or not our children would play professionally.
This was never the goal.
The goal was always to mold them into productive citizens. Parenting is a difficult job - one which requires a plan. We included sports because we came to understand the many valuable qualities they would instill in our children.
Want to be a good parent? Include sports or some other activity where your child will interact with other children in a quest for a common goal.
We only have a few short years to mold our children before they leave and live their lives on their own. Make the best use of your time and teach them well. Sport can be a magnificent teacher.