Fan: an enthusiastic devotee (as of a sport or a performing art) usually as a spectator
Fa·nat·ic: marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion
With the college basketball season underway, those who are passionate about the sport and their university will undoubtedly start crowding arenas and sporting their team colors.
The spectacle of college basketball, along with many of today’s sports, has led to the creation of intense fan bases that support their side from the opening tip to the final whistle, all the while creating a raucous atmosphere that is unmatched in any other arena.
Choreographed chants, jeers, and fight songs compliment the costumes, body paint, and huge signs waving in the stands at any game.
Fans are an essential part of any sport. Their energy creates an intensity that can be felt through your television and helps to create a distinct home field advantage that is very unique to the sports realm.
What we as adults and role models need to be aware of is that there’s a fine line that separates us from being fans and a free fall into fanaticism. Far too often, we take our love for sports and desire for winning and push it onto our kids.
In a time that should be used for creating a passion for the game, mental and physical development, and simply having fun, parents and coaches tend to take what’s pure in youth athletics and transform it into the fanatical lifestyle we’re accustomed to associating with collegiate and professional sports.
Influencing our young athletes in this way undoubtedly has negative consequences. Stats have already shown that 70% of America’s youth are driven out of sports by the age of 13. Regardless if your child has the ability to pursue athletics for the long-term, a parent’s support (or lack there of) shouldn’t deter them from enjoying the game. Sports provide our youth with the means to develop lasting friendships and essential life skills that will help prepare them to succeed in life long after they’ve hung up their sneakers.
So, here are four ways YOU can be a true fan for your young athlete:
- Support your athlete; don't live through them.
Parents tend to live vicariously through their children and take it personal when they succeed or fail. Separate your desire for success away from your child’s productivity in their sport, and make sure they know, win or lose, you’re there as a support system.
- You should always put the gospel on display...that includes in the stands!
While in the stands, try to avoid negative comments toward anyone. Whether it be the officials, coaches, others in the stands, or the athletes themselves, always stay positive and constructive!
Instead of reacting in this way, consistently act with the train of thought that EVERY situation and EVERY interaction is an opportunity to put the gospel on display so that others can see God’s love through you!
- Show passion, but keep perspective.
Utilize wins and losses as teaching points where you can help your athlete grow and mature.
As an athlete, our youth often feel like their performances, stat lines, and win-loss records define them. As parents and coaches, it is our job to let them know there is more to life and a much greater purpose than sports.
- Cheer for the "right" things.
Effort, teamwork, hustle, respect, skill development, and sportsmanship - These are the types of values we should be celebrating when our athletes are competing. Too many times, we hear fans placing one individual above all others because of their stats or accolades, but we need to make sure all competitors see the value in their contribution no matter their impact on the score sheet.
We always want to know how the gospel is being put on display during the season. Let us know how you’ve witnessed parents and/or coaches being true fans of young athletes in your Upward Sports League by visiting our Facebook Page.