Sports and Fatherhood Go Hand In Hand

Justin Jarrett |

Photo credit: Beth Mitchell

Dads and sports have a complicated relationship.

If you love sports, there’s a pretty good chance your dad had something to do with that.

You probably got your first lesson in the rules of every sport sitting on your dad’s lap while he watched the game, patiently giving the best explanation he could muster for each of your incessant questions.

Your favorite teams are probably his favorite teams, selected before you even knew there were other options.

When you started playing, he was your coach, your hero, and your biggest fan. As far as you were concerned, he was the world’s greatest athlete, even if he never played past high school.

It’s not all peanuts and Cracker Jack, though.

We’ve all known the sports dad who was a little too wrapped up in his kids’ athletic endeavors. The one who seemed to live vicariously through the successes and take the failures a bit too hard. The one who made us hope for the best but fear the worst when parent and child both left the game with scowls on their faces.

It’s a delicate balance between proud pop and overzealous sports dad, and it can make all the difference in whether our kids end up relishing their sporting experience or lamenting it, whether they develop a lifelong love of competition or burn out early and distance themselves from dark memories.

It has been one of my greatest pleasures in life to be able to coach my son and his friends in rec soccer and baseball the past few years, and while I have no business trying to squeeze it into my busy schedule, I feel compelled to do so because I want to make sure the kids are getting the right perspective at this important stage in their development, not only as athletes, but as sports fans and as people.

The first thing I tell my players and their parents is that we have two rules – try your hardest and have fun. As their athletic careers advance, things will become more complicated, but at the heart of it, that’s what sports is all about.

In fact, those are pretty great rules for being a dad, too. Give it your all and enjoy the ride. It will be over before you know it.

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