I would like to congratulate Josh Hofstedt, his staff and the Bomber football team on a great season! The amount of time and effort from all of the individuals involved helped make the season a successful one. Many of the players and coaches are in the weight room at 6:00 am working on getting stronger year round, they spend many hours of practice, film study, among other things. This hard work, accountability and time spent preparing is a great formula for success.
Sports are a great way to learn life lessons. In fact, many of the best lessons we learn as a people are through sports. About overcoming failures and how to handle successes, about working hard to accomplish something, about being held accountable to a team, about getting knocked down and picking yourself back up, about being part of something bigger than just yourself. Working hard on preparing so that when the opportunity arises you have the best chance for success. Filling a role you aren’t really excited about, but doing your very best at that role for the good of your team. Losing the game, and realizing there’s no shame in losing when you leave it all out on the field. Tipping your cap out of respect for your opponent, who beat you…fair and square. Being accountable to coaches and teammates because you are relying on each other. And being humble when things do go your way because you understand the time, effort and hard work it took to get there.
When we, as a society, as a community, as parents, as players and coaches remember what high school sports are about, sports can be great. When our perspective turns more an individual than about the team, about pointing the finger to coaches and officials, instead of looking in the mirror…sports turn in to entitlement and enabling programs for student athletes. And it gets ugly…really ugly.
There are countless articles written by experts and former professional athletes that say the same thing. Over the years, I have been blessed to have many conversations with some great athletes. Some who were fortunate to play professional sports and many who had successful college careers. The vast majority say their parents were very hands off when it came to the politics of sports. The advice and encouragement they received from their parents was, ‘work hard and listen to your coaches’, ‘do your very best.’. Their parents would play catch, shoot hoops or whatever their sport of choice was. But never forced them to play. The athlete was driving the passion for the game…not the parent.
As a parent, I understand this is hard to do. We don’t want to see our children struggle or even fail at things. We want to make it the very best experience we can. And we become more involved and try to control the situation, which, many times, makes the experience even worse for the athlete. Please remember this the next time we call for a high school basketball, baseball, soccer, softball or football coaches firing. Remember as a parent, badmouthing the coach at the dinner table undermines the coaches ability to do their job and also makes your child confused as to whether or not he or she should even listen to their coach, which also limits the upside potential of your student athlete.
The truth is failure is part of sports and part of life. Trying to insulate our children from failure simply leaves them unprepared for real life. I sincerely hope my children experience struggles in sport, experience a coach taking them to task when necessary, experience the agony of defeat. Then I hope their teammates, coaches and their own personal character is in place so they move forward to try to get better for the next opportunity. If they do not have that character, then I haven't done my job as a father and I can teach my kids those values before they have real life failures or a boss who takes them to task.
My goal as a parent is to step up and coach my kids in youth sports when needed, but to focus on core values that sports teach us. When someone else is coaching them my goal is to sit there and enjoy watching them play. When they lose my goal is to allow them to work through it and teach them the tools to over come failure. When they win my goal is to keep them humble and make sure they understand it's not about them...it's about the team.
The best chance we have for our children to be successful is to remember what high school sports are for, to foster passion but don’t force passion, to encourage hard work and dedication, to support the coaches and allow them to do their job and, enjoy the heck out of it, because it only lasts for a short time.
Congratulations again to the Bombers players and staff for a successful season! A reminder to all of us that hard work and dedication to a team is a great formula for success.
Josh Hofstedt is not affiliated with Royal Alliance