Our grandkids are very active and participate in organized sports. The other day, they asked me what sports I was involved in during my high school years. They wondered if Duck, Duck, Goose or Red Rover was my dominant sport? They even had the gall to ask if I went to state for them. Very funny kids, but actually they weren’t far off. During my time, Crete High School didn’t offer any sports for females. This was long before Title IX changed the competitive sports scene for the better. We were allowed to play intramural volleyball and half-court basketball. Woo-hoo!

My explanation of half-court basketball was very interesting. They couldn’t visualize girls being limited to staying only on one side of the full court. They had a hard time wrapping their heads around my limited options compared to the opportunities available to both genders today.

The Best Reasons to Play Sports

I do marvel at the activities the grandkids have at their disposal and are involved in: volleyball, basketball, tennis and baseball. Years ago, we watched them play soccer and softball, but they watched the weeds on the field more than they watched the ball. Now, each week is filled with watching their select teams play. We keep our folding chairs and stadium seats in our car year-round, and I’ve lost count of the bleacher hours we’ve put in — all done with smiles on our faces and pride in our hearts. I would not have it any other way.

There is a difference between watching your grandkids play sports and watching your own kids compete. I seem to worry more about them getting hurt. I think each grandchild has already had some type of injury, be it foot, toe, finger, etc. Watching them play sometimes makes me nervous. Have you seen the movie “Concussion”?

So, I find myself wondering why they play sports. Here is what our grandkids say:

  • To have fun
  • To do something I’m good at
  • To improve my skills
  • To stay in shape
  • To get exercise

The grandkids didn’t mention winning as being a reason they play sports, and I was glad. I think the winning emphasis has tarnished sports a bit for me. Especially when I’m watching as other spectators around me scream at the referee, the coach, their own child or my grandchild. Really? I had similar experiences as a principal minus the grandkid piece. Let the kids play, have fun, sing the fight song and look forward to the next event.

As a longtime educator, I’ve always felt a valuable part of sports was to teach kids to win with humility, lose with dignity and learn how to work together as a team. With such an emphasis on winning in our society, the other benefits of participation and cooperation are lost.

The True Value of Sports for Kids and Teens

The idea of select and club teams, out-of-state tournaments, countless practices — both in and out of the season — can be quite the mental, financial and time investment. While I go and cheer my grandkids on in sports, for me I also want to be with them to encourage and add in other experiences. I want to make sure we help our grandkids find the right balance in their lives to keep them happy, balanced and active citizens who give back to their community.

I know there are some grandparents who believe their grandkids will win a state or national championship, but not each kid will achieve this goal. Unless, of course, there is a Red Rover Championship.

Nancy Becker

Nancy Becker

Grandkids & Grandparents

I have four grandchildren ages 14-17. In some ways, I’m a very typical grandma, always proud of everything the kids do and wanting to help support them in whatever way I can. In other ways, I’m not very typical. My goal as a blogger is to share my thoughts and experiences that I think are funny and meaningful as I adventure through grandmahood.

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