Recently, I listened to a conversation between my 10-year-old son and a friend. Interested in what my son did outside of school, the friend asked him, “How many sports do you do? “.
As a parent though, it triggered a series of disjointed thoughts that went something like this: How many does he do? Could he do more? How would we have the time or money? We wouldn’t have time for family activities like hiking and biking… wait, do those count?
What should I “count” as a sport? And why might it matter?
My goal is to teach my children to enjoy an active lifestyle, both now and when they move away from home. I want them to value moving their bodies, and treat to treat their bodies with respect. I want them to feel confident and able.
Our governing sports bodies are capturing most of these sentiments in the definition of Physical Literacy: Physical literacy is the motivation, confidence and physical competence that will result in engagement in physical activities for life.
After my monkey brain stopped spinning, and I reflected on my own beliefs – I realized that if I was going to “count” sports in our lives, using a very loose definition would serve my children best.
I would count traditional sports programs that include registration, coaches, practices, and competitions. A good sports team or club is a fantastic way to blend the acquisition of physical competence with life lessons about winning, losing, fair play and fun. Learning new skills in a supportive atmosphere builds confidence. There are so many social, emotional, developmental, and mental reasons to participate in organized sport.
I would also count the “sports” that we do in the white space in our lives. Some of the strongest messages about how to live a life may come from the examples we set in the unscripted parts. Climbing a mountain can build as much confidence as scoring a goal, and the physical and mental skills just as valuable. I want my kids to think that their day should be organized around bike rides, hikes, walks and connecting with nature. I want them to know that they can stay healthy, even if they can’t afford a gym membership. I want them to see their parents setting good examples by being active with and without their kids. Ultimately, these are the daily lessons will create the motivation for engagement in physical activity for life.
I’m going to continue to fuss over the programs I sign my kids up for, but I am also going to be proud of the number of times I kick my children outside to play, the number of places we biked to instead of using the car, and the number of games my kids know with the title “Fireball”.
As the summer approaches, we’re holding space for organized sport, active family adventures, and a balance of summer camps for both sports development and active creative fun. Whatever you are up to this summer, be sure to try something new, just for the sport of it!
Jennifer Roney – LifeFit Founder, Mom, Coach and Personal Trainer