4 Ways to Have Fun with Your Young Sports Fan, Even if You’re Not a Sports Enthusiast
by Kevin Christofora
Do you remember being a kid? What is your earliest memory? Gear up and get ready to spend some quality time with your children.
From a little fatherly experience, allow me to share some experiences for the new parents out there with new families to share and try to help you spend more quality time with the kids. I was your typical father. I worked, I brought home the bacon, I ate the bacon for dinner, and, then, I liked to roughhouse with the kids at night, before bed.
Our favorite was wrestling night, when we would push all the couches back, and it was me versus three kids: ages 3, 5, and 7. One in each corner. The only rules were: one had to be the announcer: in a deep voice, the announcer would boom, “Ladies and gentlemen, tonight’s match will be three rounds…”, and everyone also had to have an amped up stage name, with a minimum of five adjectives preceding their name. Some of them sounded like this…“In this corner, standing 55 feet tall, weighing in at 4,000 pounds, wearing the polka-dot pants, red hair, teeth like fangs, claws like a bear……it’s…a bird, it’s a plane, no it’s…Super Julianne!” We all had names. My introduction always said I was “the still undefeated Super Daddy”. After all the crazy fun, I also liked to read books to them when they were little, and, as they grew older, I cherished how they got to read to me. Most of the time, that resulted in Dad falling asleep first.
Some of our best times were various stages of gearing up for “game nights”. My family shares a love for outdoor activities and sports, and, even if you’re not a sports person, getting into the favorite game of the young sports fan in your life can be a lot of fun. Here are some ideas to engage the imagination of your young sports fan:
- Have a game day party. Do you love chips, (soft) drinks, and cheering for the home team? That is all you need to do! The best part about sports is that they play for the fans. In reality, they wouldn’t have a job without you watching. Don’t feel awkward, give it a try. Some events have more action than others; some are slower and easier to follow. Even if you’re not a sports enthusiast yourself, it can be fun to learn the game, and you will enjoy the enthusiasm of your child as they explain the rules, the plays, the teams, and the players to you.
- Plan a stadium night. My family made special nights at home. We cooked items similar to the stadium food. It is not too different from the food kids crave anyways, but it is fun to make it special for the night. Sometimes, we prepare chicken fingers and fries. Other times, we boil hot dogs and wrap them in foil, just like the ball parks. We splurge on some other fun drinks and keep it in moderation. We dress up, we get trays so we can eat in front of the television, and we pick a color or a city team we want to root for. It is fun, and at the end of the day, it is about being together and stealing some family time away from the work we all bring home every night.
- Find a free game. The price of going to a professional sports game can be intimidating, especially if you have multiple children. You don’t have to spend this month’s mortgage to see a live game. Look around your local parks and see what events are going on. Sometimes, there are other children’s programs having practices or games or some adult leagues playing pickup games. Get out of the house, go for a ride, and see what is going on.
- Go to a minor league or professional game. Taking a trip to a minor league or professional game is a real treat for kids, and it is a memory they will cherish for the rest of their lives. Get out to the stadium and let them gaze at the wonder of it all. Take some pictures, and let those moments be part of conversations for the rest of your life. My kids still talk about the games they went to years ago.
If anything, sports nights will foster many conversations, and, if you don’t know the rules of the game, all of your questions can be a great way to open up the lines of communication with your child, while sharing their passion. All of those “what’s that” and “why” questions you have contribute to their future growth and prosperity. These moments are immeasurable, yet critical to the development of child and also your life long relationship with them.
Every day, I am reminded that those kids are the direct result and bi-product of all those experiences, whether they remember them or not. The ingenuity they use today, the ideas and choices they create and make today…it all had an impact, and the importance of those times cannot be overlooked.
Those smiles they carry every day is a direct result of having fun in their life. You are not born with a smile—you are usually born screaming and crying, because it is cold and bright out here! Smiles are something that you learn how to do as a direct result of feeling joy, and reciprocating the smile and joy of another smile that is bestowed upon you. Priceless.
Christofora, a father and little league coach, hopes his book series, The Hometown All Stars, will inspire children to play outside more often. A devotee of America’s pastime, he aims to teach young people about baseball and the habits of a healthy lifestyle in the form of a fun and educational bedtime story.
He has appeared on ESPN Radio, 660 News Radio, Santa Fe – KVSF 101.5, and WDST-FM Woodstock, and has had articles featured in About Families Online, KidzEdge, Mom Blog Society, and several other publications.
For more information, please visit http://thehometownallstars.com.