Sports. I love sports. My car radio is consistently tuned in to my favorite sports-talk radio station. My morning “alarm” is my TV turning on to ESPN and SportsCenter (Duh-Na-Nuh! Duh-Na-Nuh!). So now the college football teams are ‘bowling’, the NFL has determined its playoff teams, basketball (high school through the NBA) is in full swing (or full dunk…), off-season baseball trades are happening day by day, and high school wrestling is pinning down the competition.
This is an ideal time to teach your teen how to be an appropriate sports fan. Setting an example as an appropriate sports fan can also set an example about how to treat others in life. In the midst of all of this competition, teens need positive role models and guidance about how to handle themselves. I always set specific guidelines if my ‘kids’ want to talk sports with me.
Number one: Be educated. I will only engage in conversations about sports with people who have the information and background knowledge to hold an intelligent conversation. Teenagers, by their very nature, tend to only perceive the time period in which they have been alive and often do not grasp the historic nature that accompanies many sports programs. They are the first to buy into hype without getting any background information to support their opinions. For me, in the words of one of my favorite, In Living Color, characters, “Homey don’t play that!” Know what you are talking about if you want to talk to me.
Number two: No Trash Talk. Trash Talk amongst fans is one of the biggest wastes of time, effort and energy. Fans have no control over the outcome of a sporting event, no matter how much they may want to believe that they do. Trash Talk is just hateful, ostracizing and helps no one.
Number three: No Predictions. I never attempt to predict the outcome of a game, meet or match. That’s just silly. When teens want me to make predictions, I refuse. When they push, I have a standard line: “Well, I left my crystal ball at home today…. Sorry.” It is an absolute rule that I never break. That leads to rule number four….
Number four: No Wagering. This means no wagering of ANY KIND—This includes money, favors, embarrassing stunts, whatever… The main reason for this is that I am not willing to risk stakes over something which I have no control. I have no control over how my favorite football team or baseball team plays, so for my own mental stability, I am not willing to predict or wager. More importantly, I am definitely not going to wager with a teen I am mentoring, because I would never want our relationship to become damaged because of the results of a sporting event.
If you and your kiddo are sports fans, use that to bond together instead of creating animosity. It can be a very powerful tool in your “toolbox” of mentoring teenagers.