Editors Note: This blog is part of a special series on dads which originally ran in 2012. Because it is timeless we are sharing it again.
Being the father of an athlete is a challenging yet rewarding role. At MomsTEAM we think sports dads deserve to be honored, not just on the third Sunday in June, but for an entire month. So we have designated June as National Sports Dads Month and invited some veteran sports dads to share their wisdom by responding to a series of questions (the same ones we asked sports moms in May).
So far this month we have heard from a fascinating array of fathers, from a former Major League Baseball general manager, to a Minnesota hockey coach and safety advocate, from a sociologist with an expertise in gender and sports to a pediatric sports medicine doctor.
Today, with Father's Day in the rear view mirror (MomsTEAM hopes it was a great one for all you sports dads), we hear from Kevin Duy, the founder of SportsDadHub.com:
MomsTEAM: Were you an athlete and what sports did you play as a youth (under 19)?
Duy: I was a very athletic kid. The organized sports I played as a youth were baseball, basketball and soccer. But, during the summer, after school and on weekends, my friends and I played every sport imaginable, from tennis to street hockey to sports we created from our imagination. One of my favorite memories as a kid was when my friends and I created our own Wimbledon tennis tournament. Every summer, during the two weeks of Wimbledon, we'd create a big bracket out of poster board and take it up to the park where we'd play out the tournament. It was a blast.
MomsTEAM: What is the most rewarding aspect of being a sports dad?
Duy: The most rewarding aspect of being a Sports Dad is seeing the joy on the faces of my three boys when they're on the field or on the ice. I wish I could bottle the feeling I get inside when one of them looks into the bleachers at my wife and me and shoots us a big, prideful smile. That's what drives me to jump out of bed at 4:50 A.M. on a frigid Saturday morning to take one of them to a 5:45 A.M. ice hockey practice. That's what drives me to go into work early so I can leave early enough to make it to a 5:30 P.M. baseball game.
MomsTEAM: What lesson has your sports active child taught you?
Duy: I've learned many lessons from my sports active kids, thus far. I'd say one of the most important ones is that parents shouldn't get into a routine of only signing up their kids to play the same sports they played when they were kids. Get out of your sports comfort zone and let your kids try a variety of sports, even if you don't know a thing about some of them. Ice hockey is what taught me this lesson. I never played the sport as a kid. I still can't skate very well. But it's the sport all three of my boys love the most.
On a somewhat related note, I'd say another lesson I've learned is that parents can't force/make their kids love a sport. Just because you loved to play a particular sport when you were a kid that doesn't mean your child will share your love of the game. You've got to let him find the sport(s) he loves. Then fuel his passion for it, without burning him out. That's what SportsDadHub.com is all about.
MomsTEAM: What is the most important lesson your child is learning from his/her sport?
Duy: The most important lesson I see my boys learning is that it takes dedication and focus to achieve success. If they're not paying attention to what's going on in their baseball game they won't be ready to catch the ball when it's hit to them. If they want to get better at certain aspects of their game, they need to put in the extra time to work on them.
That translates into life lessons that I try to teach my boys as well. If you don't pay attention in life, opportunities will pass you by. But when you're focused and dedicated to improving yourself, you'll be able to seize those opportunities and make the most of them.
MomsTEAM: If you could "flip a switch" and change one thing about the culture of youth sports what would it be?
Duy: I'd love to flip a switch and remove the pressure to specialize and play one sport all year round. When you have a child who shows a natural ability and real talent for a sport, there are pressures that come with that. With so many sports performance training centers sprouting up all over the place, it can feel like you're doing your child a disservice if he's not working with a specialized trainer focusing on his best sport all year round.
Once you discover that your child has a natural edge in a sport, it can feel like it's your responsibility to make sure he maintains that edge and doesn't fall behind. It's almost like there's a pressure to "not screw up" his athletic gift. Regardless of how gifted athletically they are, we need to remember that we're raising children, not professional athletes.
MomsTEAM: Brag a little: what have you done to make sports better for kids? Please share.
Duy: By creating SportsDadHub.com, I'm making sports better for kids by helping dads become good Sports Dads and positive influences on their sons. My goal is to build an online community of like-minded, level-headed Sports Dads. A place where we can share and learn from our collective successes and failures. Together, we can help our sons' become the best athletes THEY want to be. (Not the best athletes we want them to be.)
Youth sports will be better off with more involvement from level-headed Sports Dads, who keep the focus on the kids.
Kevin Duy is the father of three very active boys (ages 9, 6 & 5) and the founder of SportsDadHub.com. His goal is help Sports Dads walk that fine line of fueling their sons' passion for sports without burning them out, to help their sons become the best athletes THEY want to be, and help fathers become the best Sports Dads THEY want to be. You can follow Kevin on Twitter: @SportsDadHub (https://twitter.com/#!/SportsDadHub) and visit him on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/SportsDadHub).