Controversy is good for media. It’s also good for teaching children values and life skills. With recent national news and tabloid gossip swirling around the scandals of Tiger Woods to Gilbert Arenas and Mark McGwire, young sports fans have become over-exposed to the misconduct of once idolized professional athletes. Parents have a unique opportunity to engage children in smart conversations about sportsmanship, fairness, heroes, celebrity, ambition and excellence.
i9 Sports is a sports franchise that makes sportsmanship it’s business. i9 even requires parents to make a parental pledge to be good role models emphasizing civility and respect for players and coaches. The i9 focus on sportsmanship, fair-play and self-esteem building helps young athletes ages 4-14 years-old to succeed in life through sports.
Brian Sanders, i9 Sports President, offers parents the following tips when discussing an athlete’s controversial actions with their children:
Tip 1: Separate on-the-field accomplishments from off-the-field behavior
Help your child separate an athlete’s physical abilities from their character. This will help the child understand how their favorite sports star can be so gifted athletically, but also make bad personal decisions.
Tip 2: Consequences
Be sure to highlight the punishment and consequences that come from an athlete’s poor decision. Whether that means suspension from their league, going to jail or even going through a very public divorce, explain that athletes are subjected to consequences for their actions, just like everyone else.
Tip 3: Don’t Try to Hide it
Don’t try to shelter your children from the news that their favorite athlete has not lived up to the “hero” status they have been given. With television, the internet and radio, there are plenty of ways for children to hear about these types of incidents. It is important for parents to bring up the issue so they can explain the situation and separate fact from fiction.
Tip 4: Keep an open mind
Since the child looks up to the athlete, allow them to make judgment themselves. Do not force your child to agree with your judgments. It is important for them to see the right and wrong in a situation on their own. This will allow you to discuss the issue on another level with your child.
Children need personal mentors in sports and in life far more than they need an infatuation with media-constructed sports personalities. Share the sports experience with your child whether you’re watching your child from the sidelines or watching professional players together with your child. You can be an invaluable guide helping your child to learn about the challenges of success and of the price of mistakes.
Take the Olympic Challenge: Watch the 2010 Winter Olympics with a new perspective this year – help your child to understand the effort and choices behind the glory and the performance!