Wildcats News · Re-Defining Fun – Travis D.


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February 7, 2020

 Re-Defining Fun

One of the most important responsibilities you have as a sports parent is to do your part in making the game fun. Of course, ultimately your child will be the one who has to determine whether or not they love to play, but you’ll have an incredible influence in shaping their perspective. Jon Gordon, one of my favorite authors, says “If you don’t love it, you’ll never be great at it.” That’s so true for each of us in any area of life, and it’s true for the young athletes we’re raising and developing, too. If they don’t love it, they’ll never be great at it – at least never as great as they could be. I hope you’ll see today how important you are in making it fun.
But if you’re serious about raising a champion, then your responsibility doesn’t stop there. As a champion sports parent, you’re also responsible for helping your child work on re-defining fun. Champions set themselves apart in many ways. They have a way of seeing things differently. They think and act differently. And they define “fun” differently. Here’s what I mean…
*Most people have a tendency to define fun based on what’s comfortable. For them, discomfort is the enemy of fun. Champions, on the other hand, know there’s a deeper, more fulfilling fun that comes with giving your very best, even if that means pushing yourself outside your comfort zone.
*Most people have a tendency to define fun based on what’s safe and sure. For them, fear – mostly the fear of failing or looking bad – is the enemy of fun. Champions, on the other hand, know there’s a deeper, more fulfilling fun that comes with taking that risk. They understand that real success, despite the chance of failing or looking bad, requires the courage to go out on a limb. Sometimes that’s not safe or sure.
*Most people have a tendency to define fun based on what’s easy. For them, striving or struggling or persevering is the enemy of fun. Champions, on the other hand, know there’s a deeper, more fulfilling fun that comes with accomplishing a difficult task. Yes, it requires a higher price to pay – more striving, more struggling, and more persevering – but champions know that the prize is worth the price.
Most people are content settling for what’s comfortable and safe and easy. Left to their own devices, your child will probably be willing to settle, too. Not because they’re bad or broken; because they’re human. Being great, though – in sports or in life – isn’t comfortable, or safe, or easy. We are responsible for seeing that truth, and responsible for helping our kids see it, too. My book, The LENS, clarifies the point:
“Being an athlete, especially being the best one your child can be, will be tough, 
but it should not be miserable. The perspective that our culture promotes has 
trained young people to think that difficult things are miserable things. It takes a very intentional, deliberate, and different perspective to create in a kid the unique understanding that difficult things can be fun – sometimes, the most fun! Your child’s participation in sports is a great opportunity – probably your best opportunity – to help them develop this important lesson for life.”
-The LENS, Chapter 9: Loving the Game
You’ve got a challenging but important responsibility as a sports parent to help your child re-define fun. How exactly do you do that? Here are three ways to consider:
1) Lead by Example.  Remember, you’ll have as big an influence as anyone in helping to develop and cultivate your child’s love for the game. Of course, what you emphasize with your words will help to shape what they learn to value, but the most powerful message you can send is with your actions.
Help your child become a champion by showing them what it looks like. Don’t be average. Don’t settle for what’s comfortable or safe or easy. Instead, let them see you push yourself outside your comfort zone…and enjoy it. Let them see you take the risks that accompany real success…and enjoy it. Let them see you pay the price that comes with accomplishing a difficult task…and enjoy it! Champions breed champions. That means if you want your child to become their best, then you’ve got to work to become your best, too.
2) Trust the Process.  Re-defining fun is important work, but it’s not work that gets done in a day. Instead, it gets done through a daily commitment you make to the process of your child’s growth and development – one small step at a time. Be intentional about recognizing the opportunities that exist to help your child experience a deeper, more fulfilling kind of fun. They may be reluctant to dive in right away. When you’re used to comfortable, safe, and easy, who wouldn’t be?
As long as you’re aware and intentional about finding the right balance, you can nudge them into some new challenges and still help them enjoy it. They may be wary at first, and they’ll probably need your support and encouragement. They may also want to focus more on the outcome of their experience – whether it was successful or not – and you might be tempted to focus there, too. Just don’t forget to recognize the value in any experience, good or bad, where they’ve given their very best, worked hard to accomplish a difficult task, or taken the risk required to do something awesome. The more they experience it, the more they’ll enjoy it, and the more that new definition of fun will develop.
3) Celebrate the Struggle.  Finally, be your child’s biggest cheerleader. Becoming a champion isn’t comfortable, safe, or easy. Neither is raising one. It will require your patience and your persistence as much, and some days, maybe even more than it will theirs, but it should be fun. If you aren’t smart, aware, and creative enough to enjoy the journey, both you and your child will probably end up settling for less than your best. After all, if you don’t love the hard work it takes to raise a champion, you’ll never be great at it – at least never as great as you could be.
What The LENS book says about re-defining fun for our kids can just as easily apply to the hard work we’re doing as parents. Yes, raising champions is tough, but it should not be miserable. The perspective our culture promotes has trained even us to think that difficult things are miserable things. It takes a very intentional, deliberate, and different perspective to create for ourselves the unique understanding that difficult things – like raising a champion – can be fun! Sometimes, the most fun.
-Travis