Like most guys, I love sports. Like most guys who love sports and who are also parents, I hope my child takes an interest in, and one day appreciates, sports as much as I do. I’m not one of those dads who will insist my daughter play a sport, let alone that she play the same sport I did. Of course, in my case that would be tough. I wrestled in high school and college, and while that sport is available for women, I would not wish that path for her. My wife, on the other hand, swam in both high school and college, and all early indications from my daughter show an affinity toward the water. That makes me happy.
I often think about the best way to introduce my daughter to sports, which can be a tough prospect for young kids. We certainly can’t get out and do or experience every sport under the sun. There’s not enough time or money for that kind of thing. Nor is it practical. She’s too young for t-ball, can barely kick a soccer ball, and although she likes swimming – there aren’t any one and a half year old competitive teams around yet. So what’s a dad to do?
You might have noticed your kid probably likes the tv. We don’t have ours on too often during the day, but when it crackles to life my daughter stops in her tracks and stares at the screen. She has a few favorite shows and hums along with the words and songs of certain videos we’ve played 1,000 times. It’s that intense focus I had when competing as an athlete and the same focus I wish for her. So, with that in mind, I thought, why not combine the two. Television and sports. Why not introduce her to sports over the television. She might not understand the rules, but she can soak up how the players act, what they wear, how they compete, etc. We can start by watching a few sports on television, understanding which ones grab her attention, and then trying them in real life to see if she likes that too. At least, that’s my plan.
But there are problems with sports on tv, especially cable tv. The late winter months are a bottomless pit of despair for sports. Baseball has long been over, football is coming to a quick end, and all that’s left of the action sports is hockey and basketball. Not to mention those sports are almost exclusively male sports. Not too many tennis events this time of year and beach volleyball is still hibernating.
To reach outside the void of cable television I had to subscribe to satellite television. I’d been thinking about doing it for years, but never took the time to research price differences, channel lineups, or broadcast quality. Since then, I have been extremely happy with the availability of sports on television, and I’ve been able to introduce my daughter to all kinds of sports you would never see on regular tv, certainly not on prime time – mostly college sports.
As a side note, I highly recommend making the switch from cable to satellite tv. You get more channels, better quality, and a boat load of on-demand offerings. And the more you stick it to the big cable companies the less power they have to push political agendas like SOPA / PIPA. While there are only a few great satellite providers, they do have a ton of different programming choices and package features. A tool you can use to sort them all out and pick the best provider can be found at Satellite TV Family.
So far, we’ve watched indoor volleyball, track and field events, gymnastics, swimming, water polo, diving, basketball, badminton (no joke), ping-pong, and even curling. We watch the Big 10 network almost as often as we watch Yo Gabba Gabba, and she seems to enjoy it just as much. If Minnesota had a mascot with a furry orange head and funny glasses, I think she’d be a fan for life! It’s also become a fun activity for us when you can’t read “Sheep on a Jeep” one more time, or when the crayons have been reduced to stubby nubs.
As she grows older, and the weather warms, we’ll return to the playground, kick the soccer ball around and jump back into the pool at the Y. But until then, we’ll be watching sports as couch potatoes.
What’s your secret for introducing kids to sports? Join the dialogue and leave a comment below.