I was approached by Fanatics to participate in their “Family Fanatics” initiative, challenging bloggers to share their stories about how sports has brought families together. Fanatics is the leading online retailer of officially licensed sports merchandise – everything from NBA jerseys to MLB caps.
Ironically, their invitation arrived as my family was heading out of town to a baseball tournament for our oldest son. I jumped on it without hesitation.
How has sports brought us together? That’s easy for me to answer. To put it simply: I can’t imagine growing up without having played sports. My husband grew up much the same way that I did. Two jocks met, fell in love, got married, and passed down the tradition of loving sports to their offspring. Fortunately for us, our children love competing in athletics too.
Now is the point I’m guessing many of you are thinking, Of course they do. What other choice have they been given but to live out your glory years for you?
To that, I reply: Touche.
I’m not going to lie. As I’ve aged and it’s become quite apparent that I no longer “got it,” it’s extremely enjoyable to watch a younger, fresher, more nimble generation take the reigns.
After much prodding by their mom and dad, both my boys have repeatedly reassured us that they love playing the game (whether that game is basketball, baseball, or football) as much as we did. Their little sister even has one memorable season of basketball under her belt. It wouldn’t have mattered if I steered them in this direction or not. I have no doubt all three of them would have inevitably arrived here on their own somehow.
Through sports, they are not only learning how to play the game, but they are meeting friends along the way. Their number of mentors has grown throughout the years thanks to a lot of selfless coaches. They know what it’s like to feel pride in their accomplishments as well as disappointment in their shortcomings. They’ve felt the gratification of stepping up in a big-time situation as well as the shame of failing to rise to the challenge.
I can honestly say I learned more about how to deal with difficult people through my years on the ball field and hard court than any experience I’ve had since in the “real world.” I can also freely admit that it’s hard to match the level of camaraderie one experiences when playing for something greater than just yourself.
Whether we are road tripping to and from tournament competition sites or sitting around a table grabbing dinner after the final made out or blown whistle, sports allow us to bond together and relate to one another despite huge generational gaps.
Team sports, in particular, teach kids the valuable lesson that things don’t always go your way. Not everyone gets a medal for simply showing up. The greatest athletes are the ones who don’t play for pride, but rather for the love of the game.
I hope my children can apply these lessons and more as they grow into adults. I believe that parents like me can either help or hinder that progress from the sidelines.
Written by Heidi Woodard