Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Confessions of a Sports Dad

For me there is no other joy or honor than being a father. I have always tried to improve on my fathering skills by loving my children, accepting them as God created them, and supporting them in all their endeavors. I do my best to be there for them anytime. I have sat in bleachers in rusty molded gyms, cold soccer fields and blazing hot football fields watching my children compete. I have yelled, tried not to embarrass, (which is very hard to do) and felt a true inner sense of pride witnessing my children excel. I have refrained at times of pushing them too hard or reliving my youth through them. I believe I have kept a good balance between praise and constructive helpful criticism. At times I will admit I have gotten carried away, caught up in the moment, and even lost it a time or two. When an opposing coach intentionally had their player injury Abby, I was almost became the CNN news footage we have all seen before. But by the grace of God and some parent s, I managed to calm down and take a time out. I probably was wrong but no one likes to see their children hurt. I have always tried to allow their respective coaches coach and me just be supportive from the stands. I believe that is my role as their father.

I recently learned a deeper joy and pride as a sports father. Will and Abby both have excelled in every sport they have attempted. I am not bragging or boasting they just have. Both have always made any team they have tried out for. I am proud for the fact that what they lack in natural ability they make up for in work ethic. That would be enough but that is not what causes the pride to swell up in my soul.

The last few days I have witnessed in both Abby & Will excel in athletics in a different way. It just recently became cognizant to me. It has been there all along but I just now somehow seemed to notice it. It began with Will. Will has more than excelled in any sport he has ever attempted. His true passion is football. If anyone could watch him play or practice you can see the elation he has. The rougher and harder it is, the more his love for the game grows. This season he played every down both sides of the ball and made spectacular plays. He was a team leader on and off the field. He was first in line on every drill. Not bragging, but to watch him play he really does have a natural gift. You can see it in his walk and his demeanor. It is a since of self-esteem and pride for him. Every game he made a game changing play and just has a gift well beyond the other boys his age.

I noticed my pride and joy in a different way in which he shined. Will is now in the middle of basketball season. The other night in the game, Will never got in the game. Will rode the bench the entire game for the first time in his whole life in any sport. While the coach’s son kept making a million mistakes, and of course would not take his own son out of the game, Will sat the bench. I’m not saying if Will was in the game they would have won. But Will has never, ever been on a team where he did not play. Instead of the game, I focused on my son. I watched attentively as the minutes ticked by and the game was moving to a close. He shouted words of encouragement to his teammates. He was the first on to jump off the bench and give high fives as the boys came off the court. He never asked or begged to go in. After the game he padded each of his teammates on the back. The team lost. The coach was pissed. But Will was the only one giving everyone words and signs of encouragement. Will’s only statement after the game, “I wished I could have played but oh well.” He wasn’t mad, or upset; just disappointed he didn’t get to play. I was more disappointed than he was.

His maturity was amazing for an eleven year old athlete. Will demonstrated how to give his best to the team from the bench. He didn’t have to be on the court to shine. I felt as much pride for him that day as if he had scored the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl. It is a joy to witness God using him to encourage others, to put others before his own desires to play, and to give his all on or off the bench. I have witnessed Abby awake before dawn to go to practice while her parents are still in bed sound asleep. To give her all, to listen and learn any sport she attempts. She recently said, “Dad you don’t have to come to the game. It’s varsity. I won’t get to play.” Yes Abby I do have to be there, see it gives me a since of joy and pride. You don’t have to get in the game to make me proud I’m proud already. The athlete you are off the court is more important than the one on the court.

So I’ll always been in the stands, yelling at the ref’s, eating nasty salty popcorn, beaming with pride of the true athletes my children have become on the court or on the bench. Sometimes God opens our eyes to the true character that He is transforming you into. To catch a glimpse of it from the bleachers is good enough for me. It gives me an inner joy and pride, to know I haven’t mess you up to much…
One proud Father..

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