10 Ways to Integrate Sports With Family Life

According to World magazine, Eric James Torpy went to negotiate a plea for trying to kill a man and asked for three more years to be added to his 30-year sentence so his prison term would match Larry Bird’s old jersey number. Eric’s request was honored.

Watching sports can make us all do some crazy things that tear us apart. Or it can draw us closer together. There is a line where enjoyment becomes obsession. As with most things in life, moderation is the key to success. Here are 10 ways to integrate sports with family life:

1. Time Bandits

Mom and Dad both work. The kids all have school and homework. Families have a very limited amount of time for enjoyment. Certain sports are designed to be “time bandits.” Meaning they eat up almost every bit of free time a family has. Gymnastics and martial arts are two of the biggest culprits. Is your daughter really going to be the next Mary Lou Retton? Will your son truly become Chuck Norris? Highly doubtful. If they are of extreme talent, then by all means nurture that. Otherwise, you might consider other options for your children to participate in. Both these sports are big business and they make their money by encouraging extended time agreements. Is it really worth it?

2. The Big Game

Is there anything more anticipated, more exciting, than the big upcoming game? Maybe Christmas. Otherwise, the big game rules. Be sure to make it fun for everyone in the family. Your small daughter probably doesn’t give a hoot about it. She sure will enjoy the new jersey, the streamers and the festive atmosphere though. Your wife will be more than happy to make up a mess of great snacks and play the happy host. That is if she’s included and respected in the process. She’s not a waitress. Help out and don’t be a slug on the couch demanding another beer. Be a good leader and make sure all the troops are happy and work as a team. Family life is a sport too and you’re the coach!

3. Shop Carefully

If you wear a size 36, you don’t buy size 32 jeans just because that is what you would like to wear, right? The same thought process applies to choosing sports for your children. If your son is on the small side, then football is probably not his game. Soccer just might be his thing. If your daughter is above average height, she just might make a fantastic volleyball player. The point is, match the size and skills of your children with the correct sport. It will make it much more enjoyable for everyone involved. As an example, your humble writer here was a small child. I love football. So did my Dad. He all but forced me to play Pee Wee. Since I was the only one with the coordination to snap the ball, I wound up the starting center. I did my job and snapped the ball and we never had a mishap. After that, my job was done in my mind. That huge kid across from me breathing in my face had an open door to wherever he wanted to go. I was made to be a point guard. Not a center. Lesson learned.

4. The Real Thing

Sports are great on television. However, nothing beats being there in person. It brings to life all the passion and thrills sports provide for your whole family. They will “get” it when they are there to witness it. The roar of the crowd after the long game-winning home run. The incredible tension as your team has 4th and goal at the one yard line with the game on the line. The sights, sounds and pageantry. It’s incredible. Sadly, major sports have all but priced themselves out for the average family. When you have those opportunities, take them. Otherwise, invest your heart into your local minor league baseball team. The nearby university. High school football is about as exciting as it gets. There are affordable ways to treat your family to live sports. Enjoy!

5. Coach With Common Sense

Volunteering to coach your child’s team is a great way to spend more time with him or her. It’s also a great way to become a raving lunatic and drive a wedge in your relationship. Keep things in perspective. These are small children wanting to have fun and learn a sport. You aren’t driving a group of men towards the Super Bowl. Use your common sense. Teach the kids how the game is played. Respect. Teamwork. Give everyone equal playing time. Winning is awesome. Fun is more awesome.

6. Basketball 101

Or football 101. Baseball 101. In order to enjoy watching a sport, a person needs to understand it. Imagine your wife trying hard to be supportive. Wearing her jersey you bought her instead of the pretty necklace she really wanted. Sitting beside you and watching intently. Not having a single clue what is going on. She is miserable and feels like a failure for not enjoying what her husband loves. You can fix that Bubba! Make the effort to teach your favorite sports to your loved ones. Find creative ways to simply explain the game. You do not have to get into Red Dog blitzes. Just the basics. It will mean the world to her.

7. Grades Before Games

So your daughter flies around the track like an Olympic superstar. Your boy makes it rain out on the court from behind the arch. Can’t miss pro prospects, huh? Means nothing if they are dumb as a brick. In some circles, being a great athlete brings with it a secret pass from learning. Sports careers are short-lived and always subject to major injuries ending them suddenly. Rare is the talent that plays his sport for twenty years and makes as much money as Bill Gates. Always put education before sports. If your child has set a high standard for achievement in sports, demand he does so with his school work as well. Grades before games should always be the rule.

8. Take A Step Back

Sports can become consuming to a man. Especially at certain times of the year like Fall. The NFL, college football, post-season baseball and basketball are all cranked up at the same time. It can make a man dizzy in delight. It can also create neglect to your duties as a husband and father. Take a step back Bubba. Get a grip on your perspective. Your daughter just made you a necklace and wants your attention. You waved her off because they were showing the game winning pass by Brett Favre on Sportscenter. She is now crying in her room and you don’t even have a clue. They will show that pass over and over for the next 24 hours. Your daughter will only make that necklace once.

9. Emphasize The Positive

Sports are a wonderful tool for learning many of life’s great lessons. Most games require teamwork. Working together with others towards a common goal. Hard work and practice is a must to excel. The ability to co-exist peacefully with people you might not like. The great thrill of achievement when hard work pays off. The agonizing sting of defeat when you fail. These are reasons why sports are great. Emphasize the life lessons. Not the winning. Not the glory. The glory goes above.

10. It’s Only A Game

Most of these tips have been about balance and perspective. That is the take home value of this particular column. Sports are only games. In the end, they don’t amount to a hill of beans. What is most important in life is the welfare and happiness of your wife and children. When you are on your death bed, you will not be thinking about the Lakers beating the Celtics in 2010. Enjoy the games and cherish the moments. Include your family whenever possible. Make it a personal rule, however, that you will never let a game be more important than your own real life. Now take the field, Bubba, and let’s see some enthusiasm out there!

Huddle up with your kids tonight and ask: What is the craziest thing you have ever seen at a game?

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