Kids & Sports: Time for Sharing Values

Something I did the least well in my school days, has helped me do what I care about most now. I was an Activities Major: student government VP, a newspaper editor, co-director of the original musical production – almost anything and everything, except for sports.

But I was an avid sports fan. I learned how to keep detailed baseball score cards before I learned Roberts Rules of Order.

Sports have acted as glue in our family, a source of shared fun and for sharing values with my parents, kids and grandkids. Even my seven in-town grandkids, with whom I spend lots of time, have yet to get a lecture from me about writing or putting on a musical, but they know exactly what I think about errors in baseball, the importance of assists in basketball, head-butting in youth soccer, and the plethora of medals in gymnastics.

They know I will watch them play any game they choose, but will be outspoken about the unmitigated dangers of football, and the silly sexist style of little girls’ “baseball.” I’ll cheer loudly for any team that’s playing hard and watch in the rain for the final play of a team that’s working to the bitter end. I’ve also been known to ask, “What made you feel really good about that game?” Win or lose.

Herein lies the beauty of sports with my kids and grandkids. It’s in the banter about the game, the plays and the players that we share values, perspectives and opinions that would bore them in any other arena. Watching sports together means they knew exactly how strongly I felt about drug use without my ever having lectured them on the subject.

No way, no how, should a drug user be admitted to a Hall of Fame. Period. Got that? Yep.

A loss with a bunch of errors is for losers who didn’t give it their best shot. No sympathy – and don’t ever blame it on the officiating.

Basketball is a team sport, so I’m done cheering for that pro who makes sure his stats look good in spite of the team losing games. “See how he took the shot but could have drawn the foul – which would have helped us more in the long run? I’d bench him. You wouldn’t!? Just cuz he’s a star? What’s the deal?”

“How much money is it costing the organization to have that guy sitting on the sidelines? Maybe we ought to just trade him? Fans love him. What if we divided his salary up among all the season tickets holders and gave them a refund? Oh yeah, math does matter.”

Sports has led us to natural discussions about work ethic, morality, trust, respect, team work, staying focused, following the rules, overcoming the odds, holding your ground, strategizing, non-verbal communications, dress codes, music as a manipulator of the masses, drugs, loyalty, economics, understanding the odds, persistence, fear (including of mascots), racial discrimination, sexism, self-confidence, embarrassment, punctuality, uses of customs and rituals, safety, abuse, celebrations, anger, duty, vendors who brand themselves, honesty, attitude vs. intelligence, luck, not burning bridges, parking strategically, practice, trusting your instincts and appreciation of individual differences.

Wow, I just got started, but will give it a break.

Some weeks my husband and I go to five or six grandkids’ sporting events, and/or with them to pro games. Bring’em on.

Today we’re celebrating our 26th anniversary by going to a Diamondback’s game with two grandsons in our blended family. I know both will be totally disgusted if there are a lot of errors, and will high-five us in recognition of a great bunt as well as a home run. Both have learned how to be team players in sports and within the family– and what to say to get a grin from Grandma.

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