As a parent, I always think about setting examples for my kids. Since I do believe that playing sports is important to teach kids teamwork, coordination, social skills, and competitive skills, I think this is a key question. Sports is an integral part of our society. I see three potential role models for kids around sports: [Also, over time, I think that kids peers can become role models or certainly older kids.]
- Professional Athletes
While I think there are some great professional athletes who can serve as role models (e.g., Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods), there are a lot that aren’t due to drugs, violence, unsportsmanlike conduct, gambling, cheating, and financial mismanagement. And, that’s a very hard thing to control. We’re always (IMHO – in my humble opinion) going to pay to see the best even if they’ve used steriods or have control issues.
As parents, we have the most control over ourselves. We can make sure our children see us play sports and exercise. We can stress the importance of this. We can help them learn sports and make sure they take away lessons from their playing – e.g., winning isn’t everything. [One interesting observation that I’ve had is that athletes make good sales people because they know how to keep trying and get focused even after a loss.]
But, the one I struggle with is coaches. Sometimes you may have control over the coach, but they can be a very powerful influence on your kids. They spend hours with them and provide guidance. There are some things that you obviously don’t want in a coach – too demanding, not demanding enough, someone who encourages winning at any cost. But, what do you do about the coach that is very smart and understands how to play, but isn’t in shape at all? They can’t even run down the field with the kids. What type of image does that give the kids? It seems mixed to me, but maybe I’m wrong.
[Note: I was originally going to call this “Fat Coaches”, but I think there are plently of overweight people who are athletic. But, I’m not so sure about this guy above or some other coaches I’ve seen.]