A Father’s Insecurity: What If My Son Hates Sports?

I’ve always been an athletic person. Even in my older, chubbier dad years, I still feel like I can hold my own on a sports field.

I got this from my Dad. In a bittersweet and cruel twist of fate, I lost my father on the same day my wife found out that we were pregnant with our first child. Regrettably, I never got the chance to sit down and talk dad stuff with him. I didn’t get to ask him questions about my youth, or his for that matter and that’s one of those things that you regret as a son and father.

From the young age of 6 and maybe sooner for all I can remember, my dad encouraged me to take part in sport and I gladly obliged. Really by the time I was a teenager, sports was all I knew and I loved the feeling of being able to excel in something that I knew made my dad proud. He didn’t force anything on me, I truly enjoyed the time it afforded us together.

He coached almost every team I ever played on and when we weren’t at the diamond or on the ice, he always made time to ask if there was anything I wanted to work on in my respective disciplines. He went as far as building a rink in our backyard every year and also making a huge net for me to take batting practice in the garage. We grew very close through sports and when I found out that I was going to become a father, I couldn’t help but hope for the same type of result with my son.

Flash Forward to today, my son is almost four years old and is more than ready to start carving his niche in the world. Obviously I would love for that to involve sports but I worry about the prospect of him not wanting anything to do with it. After all, sports is really all I knew growing up, so naturally I have a lot to offer as far as coaching and experience go.

I have also developed a love for music, but as a singer with no formal training and no instrumental skills, there’s really not much I can teach him other than a brief history of rock and roll and what I learned from the Foo Fighters documentary. So that brings us back to sports as my main source of expert knowledge to share with my son.

I’ve started trying to get him into sporty things. I tried to get him to watch hockey with me but without Lightning McQueen or Buzz Lightyear on either team, my efforts fell by the wayside. I still remember the first day he asked me if I wanted to go outside and play hockey, I beamed with joy and shot outside so fast that I forgot to bring him with me. The hockey game lasted 5 minutes before hide and seek became all the rage.

Now we’ve begun soccer lessons and I can’t tell if he enjoys it or not. I know he has fun at it but I wonder if it’s because of the sport aspect or because he has a couple buddies in the class. He’s starting to understand that when the ball or puck goes into the net, he’s done something worth celebrating and while I try to make a big deal out of his goals, I also don’t want to look like one of those crazy parents at a sporting event that makes their kid and themselves look ridiculous.

The point of this article is not to criticize my son on his ability or interest in sports, it’s to shed light on my insecurity that if he decides sports aren’t for him, what do I have to offer him as a father? It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot as a father who doesn’t want to fail his son.

In the end, no matter what he decides his path will be, I am going to be supportive (unless he chooses a life of crime I suppose). I also want to be able to help him grow into the kind of person my father has helped me to become, regardless of his life choices. And I guess I would just feel more confident if that life included something tangible I knew how to teach him, other than life necessities such as using the toilet and brushing his teeth, which my wife and dentist will attest to as being things I’m not even that good at, lol.

Thanks for letting me share a little bit of my inner workings with you. It feels good to put it all down in writing, even if no one reads it. I often wonder if Mom’s struggle with the same insecurities that us Dad’s do? They always seem to have such a level head about everything and look to have it all put together as natural parents. If I had to do half the work my wife does or that my mother did, I think my head would literally explode into tiny pieces.

If you have anything you want to say about this topic, please feel free to leave me a comment below. I check and respond to them all and love hearing from everyone.

Cheers!

39 replies
  1. ashley picco (mamawee)
    ashley picco (mamawee) says:

    Chris – you can always learn about his interests together, and that would be a bonding experience too.

    And yes, mothers do have the same type of insecurities. While I would love my boys to play sports, I am not an athletic person AT ALL and worry that I would not be able to help them learn off the field/ice etc.

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      Thanks Ashley, I’m starting to come around to the idea that I may not be a total failure in other disciplines. If he wants to become a high diver, he’s on his own though, lol!

      Reply
  2. Craig
    Craig says:

    Stamps, model planes, sports, music, …whatever. When you see how much they love it, you’ll love it too. Maybe your dad (or mine) didn’t love sports until he saw how much you did? Maybe my love of sport was because my dad loved it? In the end, if you’re an involved, committed father, you can’t help but share common interests.

    Reply
  3. Kristine
    Kristine says:

    Although I see were you are coming from and hope too that you will be able to shine in your field of expertise…I also know that you have WAY more to offer. How about your sense of humour, your kindness, your ability to socialize and fit in no matter where you are, loyalty to a team (even to a fault!), your devotion to be always working towards being a better man, etc etc etc.

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      My dear wife, buttering me up I see? LOL. Thanks honey, I am lucky that I have someone like you to lean on through the tough times, even if they seem like trivial things. xo

      Reply
  4. Georgia Read
    Georgia Read says:

    Mom’s have insecure moments as well..lol I remember telling you not to feel pressured into playing sports and if you didn’t want to you didn’t have to. I was worried it was to much pressure on you until of course you went running to your Father and told him I was trying to make you quit..LOL Never did that again!!

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      LOL, thanks Mom! I always liked the free friends you got from sports, it`s like you didn`t have to try because you were put with these guys and you had to make it work out. I`m still friends with half of those guys 28 years later so I`m glad you let me keep playing:))

      Reply
  5. Kathy
    Kathy says:

    Well written Chris! No matter what path of interests Lucas takes he knows his Dad will be there to encourage, cheer, support and love him and that is what is important. If Lucas chooses something you don’t know a lot about, you will learn along side him.

    Reply
  6. Katie
    Katie says:

    So well written Chris….I love reading these blogs of yours, you are such an awesome dad. Lucas and Julia are so very lucky!!

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      Thanks Katie, I don’t know how awesome I am, lol, but I’m certainly a Dad. Lucas has been into puzzles lately so I’m getting pretty good at those:)) I`m no good will hunting but getting there.

      Reply
  7. Multi-Testing Mommy
    Multi-Testing Mommy says:

    Wow – what a fabulous post.

    I’m so sorry to hear about your Dad :( Hugs!

    It’s hard to know what to do with our kids with regards to activities. I want my kids to try everything out and find something that they truly love and want to commit to – but how many years would that take? My 6 year old daughter loves dance and other than swimming, that is all she has done. I question whether I should push into trying out sports before it’s too late and all she wants to do is dance – or is it maybe not such a bad thing that she is so focussed on something physical that she loves and enjoys?!

    Thanks for participating in SASS this week!
    http://www.multitestingmommy.com/2012/02/nows-your-chance-to-sass-back-with.html

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      Thanks MTM, in reality a part of me wants him to do his own thing so that I can learn some new stuff too. It’s just easier to stay in a comfort zone I guess. Maybe he can do hip hop dancing and his Dad can show him some new moves, LOL!

      Reply
  8. Katrina Brady
    Katrina Brady says:

    Tough call. All you can do is offer him choices. See which direction he tends to head. We all want the best for our kids but sometimes our kids have their own instincts about where and what they should be doing. You’ll be fine and so will he as long as you communicate :) In the meantime just have fun SASS

    Reply
  9. Liz
    Liz says:

    Good read Chris :) Lucas may not really be into sports but if he’s into it cause he’s got buddies their then all the power to him. It’s a lot easier way to make friends cause ur working together for the same goal. If Lucas turns out to hate sports what Kris said about u is all true cause ur a heck of a man, husband and father and thats thanks to such loving and caring parents. Both ur lil ones are already in the same boat U and Kris both ROCK :)

    Reply
  10. Angie B.
    Angie B. says:

    My dad always pushed sports for us as kids. He wanted us to try different sports and find out niche. Out of all the the kids I probably was the least interested. He didn’t like that I was a girly girl who liked make up, boys, and was afraid of bugs. I finally did find an interest in volleyball. At first I liked it and I played for a number of years. Then I joined track and field and I really like some of the events there. I was the only one out of all the kids that didn’t get a letter jacket. But I was ok with that. It wasn’t important to me. We stayed active though I can say that. And I certainly had benefits from that. I think everyone is going to be who they are. It’s good to introduce your son to sports if for no other reason than physical activity. If he decides sports isn’t his thing, you’ll also learn what he’s into and try to help him with that. It will be fine, either way

    Reply
  11. Little Miss Kate
    Little Miss Kate says:

    In my family I am the one who is not good at sports, and I worry about what will happen once my kids start playing baseball/hockey/soccer. Well maybe I could do soccer because that is just running. But I can’t throw or catch a ball to save my life, I want to always be involved in the activities they do, but worry I am going to be left behind

    Thanks for participating in SASS, hope to see you again next week

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      Thanks for hosting, it’s been a great way to meet new blogging friends. Such great content too.

      As for your sports dilemma, it sounds like you’re in the same boat as me but with the opposite issue. I’m starting to branch out my learning efforts to include crafts and hide and seek, so far, so good, lol.

      Reply
  12. Deborah / Mom2Michael
    Deborah / Mom2Michael says:

    I will bet you have nothing to worry about. If sports don’t turn out to be his thing, you will learn the new thing(s) right along with him. That will be great bonding, especially when he finds he can teach you something!

    And believe me, Moms have lots of insecurities too!

    SASS

    Reply
  13. Deanna T.
    Deanna T. says:

    With my husband it’s gaming. Board games and roleplaying have always been a big huge part of his life. It’s something he dedicates a ton of time and effort to. And he DESPERATELY hopes that our daughters will grow up to be gamers. He’s been stressing over this since I was pregnant with the first one. A girl… Then two girls.. Oh no, could he still raise them to be gamers? Would they love the things he loves? I love these same things, but to me I don’t feel this urgent almost fearful state of hoping my kids will catch on. Maybe it’s a Dad thing? – SASS

    Reply
  14. Tanya H.
    Tanya H. says:

    You may remember my oldest son from that same field of little monkeys last summer. He was the one usually resting on the side of the hill, sunglasses on, and arm thrown over his forehead lamenting the heat and his complete lack of interest. It’s a bit disheartening when children choose a different path than what we expect, but if parenting has taught me anything, it’s that nothing is quite like the picture in my head.

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      Yeah, sounds a bit like Lucas, who wanted to play the parachute and nothing else, lol. All these great responses to the post has got me thinking differently already, it’s great!

      Reply
  15. Mary Young
    Mary Young says:

    Chris,

    Women have the same problems. I have 2 boys and never played sports. My husband’s up bringing was much like yours. Gil trained him to be a baseball coach. I thought that if the boys only played sports, as a mom who never did, I was afraid to be left out because I felt I could not contribute to the activity as much as my husband. Then I found out that it is not about what they do, it is about supporting whatever they do. One of our boys took dance for 3 years….tough on my husband at first, but he was soooo good at it. Just support whatever they do. You will be awesome. The fact that you are posting these things proves you already are!

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      Thanks Mary, it certainly is fun to write about. With all these reality dance shows coming out, I thin the stereotype is thinning out. I think whatever the kids want to do is great, I just hope they don’t expect me to be a dance coach, that would be rough for everybody…

      Reply
  16. Kathryn
    Kathryn says:

    Such a great post Chris and you are not alone in this. My husband loves all sports and was so excited to coach my daughter when she signed up for Ringette but the truth was the moment our son was born he had skates ready for him and planned on his little NHL recruit!
    Fast forward a couple of years, our son was not a natural on the ice and shed many a tear. We thought his career as a hockey player was not in the cards. But last year he asked to sign up for hockey and Dad of course signed up to assistant coach. He was by far not the best player but he enjoyed going (even if it was just for the after game snacks and locker room fun with his new friends)
    But this past Saturday Dylan scored his first goal and brought home the puck with such pride. I think my husband even shed a tear!

    My feeling is let them try, provide the opportunity in an encouraging way and continue to be by your sons side just as your Dad was for you. He may try several sports and find that 1 that he loves. In the meantime the journey will be fun for both of you!

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      I can totally see shedding a tear when my kids achieve a “first” in something and are able to show their pride. I will definitely be the coach type as well, which is something I absolutely get from my father.

      Reply
  17. angela
    angela says:

    well…our first born, a strapping blonde boy, did not get the sports gene. at all. and we tried. did my husband have a hard time with it? more worrying about the social implications of a boy who does not play team sports. all little boys want to play hockey right? not ours. soccer, they all love soccer. nope, not ours. softball? only to hang out in left field and build houses out of the sand. how did they bond? individual sports were okay, they skied ( and still do ) together. but with them it was books. tons of books. the same books my husband read as a kid. and the same ones they read today. and politics, now that that interest has appeared. and soon? driving;). this week to be exact.

    there will be many things to bond you to your son, if sports are not in the equation. so many:).

    oh…and our next kid? the girl? total stick wielding hockey player, who embraces all things team sport related. a real force to be reckoned with.

    and we still find things to bond over, with me being the quintessential non sport mom. it will be fine;).

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      Thanks. My son is on and off with the sports thing these days. He loves video games, so that’s an immediate bond between us, haha. He loves books too, which makes Dad happy! As for my little girl, I tried soccer and hockey with her too but I think she’s heading down the girlie girl path, which is perfectly fine by me.

      Reply
  18. Zeev Orzakovski
    Zeev Orzakovski says:

    Hey Chris, I’m right there with ya, buddy. I grew up a sports nut (still am). Ive introduced my oldest (6) to various sports, trying to gauge if he likes participating in individual sports, team sports, or even going to sporting events (eg. Jays game). I share the same anxiety that if he decides sports are not for him, where will I fit into his world..what will be build our bond upon. I didnt start playing until I was 9 or 10 and then there was no looking back, I played everything my parents would put me in, gladly.

    In general, I think its still too early to tell and I am very careful about how I broach the subject with him. In regard to your question about whether he is enjoying the sport or the camaraderie with buddies on his team, Id say its all in the same thing. If they are enjoying handing out in that setting, he will always associate team sports with happy times and that should likely stick.

    If, in the end, sports is not in the cards, Plan B is me adjusting and learning whatever it is that ends up floating his boat and being there, not necessarily as the expert, but just sharing in the experience of learning together. Nothing more important in the world.

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      In all honesty, part of me hopes he doesn’t want to follow the path I took, so that I can learn about new things as well. I can’t imagine a more bond building experience than going through unchartered waters together!

      Reply

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