Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Grooming the Sports Freak

Yes.....I'm a sports freak.....an addict if you will. Checking my fantasy sports teams everyday, watching my football on the weekends.....all of it. Wife can get sick of it.....the time it takes to study statistics. However, she has learned quickly that this obsession of mine isn't going away, especially after 15 years of dealing with it.  Luckily, there has been a part of her that has never died too. I mean this "girl" used to collect more baseball and basketball cards than I did growing up. Sometimes she even impresses me with some of her sports knowledge.

My parents never really understood what turned me into this "freak". However, in my eyes it's easy to see how in early childhood battle of "nurture vs. nature", nature won. You see......growing up in the boonies will do it to you. The nearest neighbor I had was 1/4 mile away. You could go a whole night without seeing one car drive down the road. My backyard was 20 acres of fields and forests, a city kids dream. It was my playground.

What did I do? Build forts, run around the field chasing cows, and yes.....play sports. The first day I moved into our house a little before the age of two, I was greeted by two neighbor boys, Kenny and Kevin (brothers). We did pretty much everything together. As we grew older sports took a front seat; tackle football in the field, wiffle ball, and basketball. Dad poured concrete in front of our garage after Santa brought a basketball hoop. I can't tell you how many times I swear I heard the buzzer or the end of a shot clock. We would play through our parents yelling at us out the window, into the darkness, until finally "game over" was made clear when parents had to actually walk out of the house to get us (not happy by the way).

It's amazing how many times conflicts came up....no referee or umpire, we had to talk through it. It was hard to win the battle when I was the youngest in the neighborhood and we had no instant replay. However, it was good for me. Being a country kid I was able to learn not only work ethic, but the importance of imagination and teamwork along with having a playful attitude.  Luckily, these traits were never removed or lost, gladly calling this man home. 

As a father and teacher, I try to teach these kids the importance of sports and the need for sportsmanship and respect . I love to relive and tell the stories of the playful age that I once was, and try to get them to appreciate their youth. The amount of time to do the things I used to be able to do as an active sports nut has disappeared. However, even when the time to "play" is gone, I don't appreciate sports any less. The Ducks, Blazers and Seahawks will never be routed against!

Why do I write about this? Kids learn by observation and experience. Give them the time, show them your playful side. In a time of our lives where we have no choice but to live with less, sometimes sports and play can be so much more, especially for our youth of today and our parents of the future.