As a young girl growing up, I adored my father. But my dad wasn’t and (still isn’t) the most open person. I craved to spend time with him, and around second grade I let him teach me the game of basketball.
The memories I have in my head of shooting the ball with him and doing dribbling drills in the street are forever etched in my brain, along with lying in the bed in the evenings watching the L.A. Lakers play. That same year, I joined my school’s basketball team and played on a team all the way through the varsity level in high school. A few years after my introduction to basketball, I became interested in football and engaged my dad in teaching me not just about the sport but even about fantasy football. Every week, we would get the newspaper and look at the team match-ups, and we would compare stats and win-loss records to make our weekly Pick ‘Ems. Sports was my childhood, because sports gave me time with my father.
My dad raised me to be a L.A. Lakers fan and a San Francisco 49er’s fan. After Steve Young, the quarterback for the 49ers, retired in 1999. I thought it was time to step out on my own and find my own team. Of course, I did this the way any 14 year old girl would...I chose the team with the hottest quarterback! That quarterback was Drew Bledsoe, who was the quarterback for the New England Patriots. Now, my dad did not like this betrayal😤😩 , but we still watched the games together on Sunday and argued about our “two-cents” worth concerning the league the rest of the week.
Three years earlier, Kobe Bryant was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers, but then immediately traded to the L.A. Lakers. My dad loved him; so naturally I loved him. We stuck by this player through the good and the bad. In 2003, I went away to college, and whenever I called home the best way to get my dad to stay on the phone and talk for longer than 5 minutes was to talk to him about Kobe and the Lakers. I could hear him smiling through the phone, as I would throw out stats at him and agree with him about bad trade deals.
In short, sports inherently gave me one of the things I love most--quality time with my dad.
Perhaps, you have someone in your life who is a big sports fan. You would like to engage with them, but you just don’t like baseball because it’s boring. Or you hate football because you don’t understand it, and it’s entirely too long. Don’t even get me started on watching people bounce a brown ball and toss it into a bucket!🏀
If this is you, then keep reading for my 4 strategies to get your loved ones to love sports.
1. Become a Fan of a Team
This is the easiest one. Pick a sport that your loved one is interested in and become a fan of a team in that sport. It could be at the collegiate level or the professional level. It doesn’t even have to be the same team that your loved one roots for. In fact, sometimes it’s better to be on different sides. I’m still a Patriots fan, and my husband is a Jets fan. It was that way the day we met. The Patriots and the Jets are divisional rivals. Sundays can be tough in our house, sometimes😜😃 .
Now let me be clear, the tip here is to become a fan of the team, not just root for them. That means you follow the team on social media, you buy their gear, you sleep in their pj’s, (OK, that one's for hardcore fans), and you try to watch their games or at least view the highlights of their games.
2. Learn the Basics of the Sport They Love
Each of the four major sports in the US: Football, Basketball, Baseball & Hockey can be incredibly nuanced in their rules and the different levels of play. However, each sport typically follows basic or fundamental rules. For example: basketball has five players, on each team, on the court at one given time. The team that has the ball is on offense, meaning they are trying to score, and the team that doesn’t have the ball is on defense and is trying to stop the other team from scoring. That fundamental is the same whether you're watching an elementary game or a game 7 in the NBA Finals.
Don’t be afraid to learn about the sport. The more you know the better you're able to have an informed conversation with your loved one. I love explaining to my friends the difference between the pass interference penalty and the illegal contact down the field penalty, in football. But that’s getting way deep in the sauce!
3. Identify a Player You Like and Root for Them
Once again, I would go with picking a player in your loved one’s favorite sport. If you choose to go with this strategy then you’re not necessarily investing in an entire team, but rather just the player. Wanting to see the team do well is a by-product of rooting for your favorite player. For example a massive number of people are fans of Steph Curry, the point guard for the Golden State Warriors, but not all of them are Warriors fans. You can be one without the other.
A great way to be a fan of a player is, also, by following them on social media to get to know them a bit better. Form your own opinion about the player rather than just taking on others' thoughts. Follow their games and learn how they play, and what position they play, and their backstory. Basically, connect with them as people.
4. Attend a Live Game
Participating at a live game is significantly different than just watching it on television. When you attend a live game you are apart of the environment and the excitement. There are thousands of people cheering with you or against you. The electricity of the event becomes contagious.
Being in attendance during a game or match will undoubtedly ignite a passion for the sport that may have remained dormant otherwise. Don’t just attend the game but take your loved one with you. When you do, you will see a childlike joy encompass them for 2-4 hours! Hopefully, that same joy washes over you too.
The beauty of these 4 strategies is that you don’t need to do them all. Choosing to implement one will definitely help to change your mindset. As your mindset begins to grow then the other strategies will inherently be engaged. Sports can truly be a great thing. They teach us teamwork and discipline, and help us connect with individuals with whom we may have nothing in common. I challenge you to have a willingness to develop your mindset on sports for your loved ones.
That’s Cynthia’s mindset on How to get your loved ones loving sports!