About two weeks ago, I thought about writing a column about organized sports and our youth. Then I watched the NFL game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals and decided it was a good idea with a little more power.
Sometimes sports get a bad name. No, not everyone is made to be an athlete. But regardless of where my sons end up in their futures, I don’t doubt for a second that the skills, abilities and interactions will help shape what they do.
Before I get into my son’s own experiences, I want to start with what happened in Cincinnati when Buffalo defensive back Damar Hamlin had a freak accident while tackling receiver Tee Higgins. I’m a big fan of football, so I rarely miss a game. Not surprisingly, I watched the game live. I watched as Hamlin jumped right after the catch and then fell to the ground.
Based on the reactions of the players and the tears, I knew it was much more than the concussion that our minds usually go to. What followed the rescue measures on the field is what keeps me believing in humanity and organized sports.
You had two teams that knew they couldn’t go on and play the game because the player’s life was more important. You had a nation, love or hate football, rooting for this man to survive. You had good wishes, strong support and a toy drive, receive millions in donations in Hamlin’s name.
When you play sports, you get a second family. They become part of your everyday life and you play and support each other.
My 9 year old started playing his first year of competitive hockey this year. He loves sports and shows great passion for learning the game and improving.
When he first started, his team, the Arapahoe Warriors in the 10-and-under league, was hard to watch. They learn sports, and we lost a lot. As parents, we were in the stands every game and were supportive, but worried when we lost by six or more goals.
Fast forward a few months and this team is now winning regularly. They support each other, they push each other and I see progress in my son’s game and the others in the team. He is proud of what they do every week.
It’s nice to see that he’s proud of himself too. He makes friends, learns from an excellent coaching staff and acquires principles and skills that will take him beyond hockey in the future.
No matter how bad a reputation sports teams get — they can never replace the friendships my son is making. I can’t beat the support and friendships I make with my parents in the stands. I know they all care about my son and cheer him on every game.
With sports come emotions. Hamlin is a great example. On January 8, every team in the NFL wore shirts supporting Hamlin. They showed vulnerability by talking about a rare incident that caused him to go into sudden cardiac arrest.
Love, support and development are what we all want to have in our lives. To Hamlin, the NFL athletes and my son as he takes this journey forward — I love the often overlooked positives of joining an athletic program.
Thema Grimes is the south metro editor for Colorado Community Media.