Being a good sport

Parent24 Editor, Scott Dunlop
Parent24 Editor, Scott Dunlop
Most schools have expectations that pupils will participate in every area of school life, including sports. Some schools have a policy in place that each child must do one summer and one winter sport. There are obvious benefits to this. My kids seem happy enough to try out different sporting disciplines, but there have been a few hiccups, too.

When I was fifteen I foolishly joined the under 19F rugby team. I’d never played rugby before and I must have been the smallest player in the entire league. I spent most of the season running away screaming from huge, lumbering guys. I had made a bad decision, but had to live with it.

Come to think of it, none of my sports choices were particularly good. I wasn’t really into organised sport, preferring to climb trees and go rambling in the hills. My sports efforts were aimless.

My own kids have been more zealous about taking on sporting responsibilities. I have thrown a ball around with them, but never watch sport on TV, so their passion comes from themselves. I like that. If they want to get into soccer or rugby or hockey, it won’t be because I pushed them but rather because they made the choice. Of course, I’d support them in whatever they choose to do.

So far they’ve had a mild start, shrugging off the losses against other schools and just having fun. They repeat that slight fib, “it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game”, with concentrated zeal.

If they decide to take on a new sport and it’s one that involves expensive kit, we either borrow some of it or buy used gear. That helps to remove the financial commitment to a sport which may only be played for three months before the bats, racquets, pads and so on end up in the garage.

I know there are some sports-mad parents out there who dress their babies in soccer club outfits and carry the dream that one day their children will represent the country. Not a bad dream to have at all.

My own father was incredibly passionate about sports of all kinds. And he raised three sons whose sum total of sporting output has been the occasional game of pool. So my experience is that you need to allow your children to develop interests of their own and then get behind them. You can help expose them to different sports by taking them to games or watching matches with them on TV, but not all children will choose to make sport a lifestyle.

I’m sure that you’ll all be cheering your kids on in whatever sport they choose to do. In parenting, we all know that sometimes we win, sometimes we lose, but the best we can do is to keep on playing the game, learning new tricks and techniques and maintaining our sometimes failing equipment.

Good luck for all of the Saturday lifts to matches and the even tempers you’ll need as spectators!

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