As a Southern father, there are a handful of mandatory traditions that my heritage requires me to pass down to my children. Proper manners, an affinity for barbeque, how to properly make sweet tea, and most importantly, a love for football. As much as I hope that my kids will grow into fellow sports fanatics, I know being born in the South or growing up in a family full of football fans doesn’t guarantee that my kids will follow in the tradition.
So if you want to pass this tradition down to your kids, here are three ways you can nurture a love of the game from a young age while spending quality time as a family.
It’s easy to make football a family tradition by getting your kids excited about your team. From dressing your kids in team attire when they are too young to have any say about their clothes to taking them to games, there are plenty of easy ways to get them into the football spirit. As your little one gets older, the fun only continues. As they grow, let them pick out their game day gear. Use watching games as a way to spend quality time together and strengthen your bond while making memories (and maybe practicing a few cheers). When it comes to them getting excited on their own, it helps to have a mascot your kid can get excited about. For example, my kids are very interested in Buzz the Yellow Jacket and Freddie the Falcon.
Teach Them the Game
I learned this lesson after a few failed attempts of trying to convert previous girlfriends into fans of sports I loved. How can anyone enjoy something they don’t even understand? Now, I take a new approach with my kids. When watching games, I try to give context to explain what is happening and why. My kids are too young to know what football jargon means, but this is a long-term play, as I am planting seeds that will not come to fruition for years (if ever).
Football is more than just a spectator sport. It provides plenty of opportunities for the whole family to be active together. At any tailgate, you’re likely to see plenty of footballs being thrown around by out-of-shape grown men and kids alike. Teaching your kids to throw and catch will not only give you time to bond over football, but can give them added confidence. That simple game of catch can easily turn into a hobby that continues as they get older.
The bottom line is there’s no guarantee your kids will love the game, but you can still have fun along the way. No matter what, make the time you spend watching the game special. And remember: nurture their love for it (if it exists), but don’t force it on them.