Don’t Be Disappointed If Your Sons Hate Sport
It comes with the territory of boyhood that sons should play sport.
It’s part of their developing masculinity, their Alpha-maleness with a small ‘a’.
Parents of pint-sized goal-machines are applauded for their contribution to the soccer team as they morph into creatures screaming from the sidelines, dragon-breath billowing on a cold Winter’s morning, revelling in their future Cahill’s bagging goal after goal.
But what if your son is not sporty? What if he is not only ‘not terribly good’ at sport but absolutely hates it?
My three boys are pretty good at sport; AFL, soccer and athletics. One has made it to state level and has a collection of gold medals and ribbons. I’ve spent hours in the car ferrying them around to training and matches from the ‘burbs and beyond. I’ve also clocked up more than a decade as a soccer mum. My car stinks of sweat and mud, plus the occasional cyclone of Lynx deodorant, enough to make us all gag. Most boy-parents can relate. Also, having boys, I just assumed they’d play sport. There was never any question.
But I mix with mothers who are devastated when their sons quit rugby due to things like broken collar bones, on top of all the other injuries they have. They do everything to encourage them to continue, but a 15-year-old can make his own decisions.
When it comes to boys and sport there are three distinct categories:
- Boys who love sport and are great at their chosen game;
- Boys who don’t really care for the game but they’re so good the parents won’t let them quit;
- Boys who hate the game and hate sport. These boys were clearly created to excel in non-sporty pursuits.
A friend of mine is devastated that her beloved son falls into the third category. It doesn’t help that his father loves the game he’s given away.
“We’ve tried everything,” his mother said, “bribery, begging, promises to meet famous players. But he’s not interested in sport, he’s interested in art and origami. He makes these incredible flamingos and other creatures. So I’ve accepted that he loves origami and he hates sport.”
"When he was eight he hated rugby so much he locked himself in the public toilet so he could miss the game.
“We called the police because we thought he was ‘missing’. That’s when we decided to pull him out of rugby. If he’d rather spend an hour shivering in a rank toilet block than being on the field with his mates, something had to give,” she said.
So what did my friend and her husband do? They enrolled him into a local soccer team. If he hated rugby, he’d love soccer, right?
“He hated soccer with a passion. After two matches, where he basically stood in one spot and kind of twirled around, in his own world, he just refused to put his soccer kit on ever again,” my friend said.
So they tried basketball. Sadly, he had an ‘elbow in the eye’ during his debut game and refused to play again.
“He was probably too short for basketball anyway. It didn’t help that his team mates were mostly giants.”
My friend’s family’s final attempt to find their son a sport was AFL. There was a glimmer of hope when he told his parents he liked the colours of his footy jersey (maroon, blue and yellow) but that’s as far as his enthusiasm for Aussie Rules ever got.
He lasted five games though, which was a record.
So after a ‘joyful’ five weeks of watching their son not kick the ball and not run the length of the footy field, it was agreed that he needed to take long term ‘time out’.
“Now I’m letting him focus on his art. Anything that makes him happy.”
We all know physical activity is important and team sports can be very beneficial. But we can’t be good at everything. Think about all the people you know who don’t like watching sport, let alone play it.
So, if you have a son who isn’t interested in sport, let him find joy in other activities such as rock climbing, cycling, walking the dog, or art and origami.
Or, better still, let him cheer his sister on as she kicks the goals in the back of the net.