Anywhere you go—whether visiting the doctor or orthodontist, or attending a school function—you will quickly learn that people don’t know how to talk to your son if he doesn’t play sports. Our society is programmed in a way that makes a boy who doesn’t play sports an anomaly. What can we possibly have to say to him if we can’t ask him about football, basketball, or soccer? My son not only doesn’t play sports, but he also doesn’t watch them either. GASP! I know, it’s a tragedy, right?
My son has a deep abiding empathy for others.
My son is a critical thinker.
My son is constantly questioning the world.
My son is not a box checker.
My son has a thirst for knowledge about space that won’t quit.
But the world has no questions for him except for, “what’s your favorite sport to play”?
Really? This 13-year-old boy, who could possibly change the world, has to constantly answer why he isn’t interested in sports. Can’t society do better than that? Until he turned 11, I watched my son pick grass on the baseball field rather than be in the game. I watched him run half-heartedly down a basketball court and cheer for his teammates every single time they scored. We tried to involve him in every sport offered and encouraged him to get involved but, ultimately, sports were just not for him.
The looks I get from other mothers when I say that I gave him the choice at age 11 whether to play sports or not is one of reprehension. How dare I guide and support instead of mold him into the image that is expected for our boys?
I get it, I really do. Our boys are to follow a plan set out for success, right? We believe that by getting them involved in sports they will play through high school and gain popularity and acceptance along the way. This quells the fears society has instilled in us that if our boy doesn’t play sports, then he is uninvolved. He is clearly sitting around doing nothing.
We ignore the statistics behind head trauma.
We ignore the statistics regarding how many of those boys actually play in college.
We ignore whether our children are enjoying themselves.
We ignore what their true passion might be.
We ignore that competitive sports keep them so busy that they have little time for much else.
I am not saying that sports don’t have value. They do. Especially if your son or daughter loves the sport. A sport can cause someone to push themselves, learn about themselves, and challenge themselves and meet those challenges. These are all really good things. But if your son or daughter doesn’t have passion for the sport—I mean real passion—then what are we doing? Why not look deeper? Why not look beyond society’s expectations?
To what degree does your child’s involvement in sports have to do with you?
What if we got to know our child? What if we asked him if he wanted to play sports or get involved in robotics, student government, forensics, or the like?
What if we asked, “Who are you and what do you like?”
What if we said, “It’s okay to not like sports”?
What if we said “Whoever you are is enough”?
What if we put our desires aside and opened the door for more?
The self-worth gained from a parent who says to their son or daughter, “You are enough,” is valuable beyond measure. That parent opens the door to more. That parent learns more about their child and more about themselves than ever before.
We owe our boys more than molding them into a system they don’t fit into. If your boy isn’t an athlete, guess what, it’s OK. They are going to be OK.
You are enough, and so are they.
Question: If your son told you he doesn’t want to play sports, how would you respond?
Challenge: Have the courage to let your child be who he wants to be—even if it goes against society’s traditions. Tell your child today, “You are enough. I love you just the way you are.”
Article previously posted on Huffington Post .
Edited by Megan Roxas and Becky Fawcett.
Image from FreeDigitalPhotos; graphics by Julie Finlayson.
I am so with you! My son has very little interest in sports, and that is absolutely fine with me! Sports are such a huge time commitment, and I have no desire to sit in the hot sun or freezing cold watching games and practices. I only have one child (unfortunately), but I can’t even imagine the time commitment for families who have multiple children in sports. Don’t get me wrong, I think that sports, as well as pretty much any extracurricular activity have value. It’s a matter of deciding which activites are worth investing the time in for the needs of a particular family and the interests of a particular child. My son currently goes to Sunday School once/week, Cub Scouts once/week and piano lessons once/week. The piano lessons are the biggest time commitment because they require daily practice, but he has always loved music, and I think the practice is good for him intellectually. It’s all about balance!
My son has been bullied by other boys his age for not liking sports. He likes to come home from school and shoot some free throws and play a game of horse with mom or dad. He refuses to play anywhere else. Why? Because some jerk always tries to show off and take over the game. He can’t stand that. So he will stick with reading books of all kinds, building models and playing trombone. He also likes to go hiking and ride bikes. And it is perfectly fine. More parents need to understand this and teach their children this.
My son also has no desire to be involved in sports. But he is brilliant and loves science, technology, engineering, and math which is quickly becoming more popular than it even was when I was a kid. I just watched him receive a metal at a robotics competition and as he was cheered on by his team mates and coaches and peers from other schools I was thankful that there are more opportunities for boys besides athletics.
My son never really liked sports. He likes playing videos games and music. He just got a scholarship to a state university for music. Sports have become so competitive. Where’s the league for kids that just want to stay active and have fun?