Do You Have High Expectations For Your Kids In Sports?

An article I wrote that was originally posted on the Dads Round Table.

With the first pick in the 2027 NBA Draft, the Toronto Raptors select Harrison Cusden out of the University of Michigan…..

A dad can dream can’t he? All of my favourite things culminating in one glorious moment that will shape the life of my son and our family.

No pressure right? No expectations at all. Just go from a kid in the driveway to the biggest stage in basketball. Now that a Canadian has become the top pick in what is still a very American sport, as witnessed by Anthony Bennett and most likely Andrew Wiggins next year, there are no limits. So, let’s keep the party going for many years to come. In particular, 2027 and 2030.

Pretty high expectations right?

Don’t worry, I am not some crazy guy running shooting drills with my son at 5 am. I am of course sharing a dream that plays out in my head all the time when I watch my son slam dunk a ball on his mini-net.

I am sure you have done it as well. Sitting around with friends and family arguing over what big time school your son will get a full scholarships to and what pro teams they will make. This is most common in our household during March Madness.

There is a definite fight for the ACC and the Big Ten going on.

For many parents out there, pro sports is a dream as well. I mean, wouldn’t it be great if our kids grew up to be professional athletes?

Our son is three and already has an interest in at least 10 sports. It is a can’t lose situation. He loves to play basketball, hockey, golf, baseball, tennis, soccer and many combinations of each.

Both my sons are bigger than the average at their age. Of course my mind is going to wander off to fantasy land and picture my boy’s faces on ESPN.

Here is the difference. I know how to separate fantasy from reality and keep those dreams in my head. These thoughts in no way are going to create expectation for my boys in whatever direction they go in life.

Sure, it would be great if things played out that one or both of my sons turned out to be great at a sport. Look at the Lopez twins in the NBA. I wonder what kind of expectations Mr. and Mrs. Lopez had when their boys were both on their way to being seven feet tall? I am sure dollar signs were making an appearance the further they went in organized hoops. But stories like this are the minority.

So as my one boy who is three and the other who is not even one yet, grow up on a world where millions can be made if you are good at a sport, what expectations do I have as a father?

To put it bluntly, I have no preconceived expectations.

Now, I expect them to grow up and be decent people, who do the right thing and play by the rules, but that is pretty normal if you are a parent I would hope. I want them to find a sport or skill they love. I want them to try whatever they want to try regardless of my personal opinions. I want them to be happy.

If sports never materializes, so what? It could be music, cooking, medicine, writing, or any number of other mediums that interests my boys. I will support them however I can and do what I can to help them reach a goal or dream.

If they love to play basketball and don’t make the All-Star team, so what. If they play tennis and don’t make the National team. No big deal to me.

What it comes down to is:

  1. Did they do their best?
  2. Did they have fun?
  3. What can I do as a parent to support?

Living in Canada, too many times I hear of parents putting their kids in the NHL before they can even skate properly. They are going to the rink, harping at the coach and basically placing a lot of unnecessary pressure on the kids to be the best.

That kind of pressure and stress is why a lot of kids quit the sports they once loved.

Young children, particularly preschool and elementary school, don’t need any more stress or pressure than they already have. Being a kid is a lot tougher than it used to be. For all those parents out there with young kids taking interest in sports, I say, just sit back and let them enjoy it. Be involved with them and their sports. Let them explore and try out new things. Forget that they are not following the rules or doing it right. Let them combine baseball and hockey into some sport that does not exist. Let their minds run wild and let them get all the exercise they can. Go outside and play something with your son or daughter. If they love a sport, the chances are much greater they will continue to play it and maybe even become that first pick in the NBA one day.

Now, that being said, if your kid is a lefty, stop reading this post and go find the nearest baseball diamond that has a pitcher’s mound.

Like I said, a guy can dream can’t he?

Thanks to the team at the Dads Round Table for giving dads a platform to share stories, experiences and ideas.