"Confessions of a Sports Dad"

posted by Kirk Gentzel, Missional Communities Pastor

I just finished coaching my first season of T-Ball.

It was a special season because it was my son, Carter’s, first year to play ball.  If I’m honest, I’ve been waiting for that little boy to play since the day he was born.  His mom and I are both extremely competitive and sports have always been important to us.

Heading into the season I expected to cherish and enjoy watching my son do something he loves, but the truth is...I struggled deeply.  My desire to see that little boy succeed brought things out of me that took me off guard and left me scratching my head.  I was taking this thing too seriously, and you could see it in Carter’s game.  When I heated up, he melted down; his nerves getting the best of him, making bad play after bad play.  I needed guidance, and it came from from the most surprising place: Texas Rangers Manager, Jeff Banister.

Banister has kids who play youth sports, and in a surprisingly deep few minutes on The Ticket, Banister outlined how parents ought to interact with their kids.  He starts, If you talk to your child while they’re competing — even from a distance, even in a whisper — that’s all they can hear.”

I could see this so clearly in Carter.

Banny goes on, “When you’re there and you’re cheering and you’re clapping and lending support, their feeling is so much greater. They’re going to compete harder. They’re going to focus.”  In essence, they’ll flourish, and that’s what Carter did as soon I took Banister’s advice.

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
— Ephesians 6:4


Exasperate.  That’s what I and so many of other parents do to our kids with a relentless drive to see them succeed.  Like Lennie and his little mouse, we love them to death; our aspirations and desires for them choking the life out of experiences that are meant to be fun.  

So now, with one season winding down, I’ve turned over a new leaf and its making all the difference.  As Kerra and I hurl loud encouragements at our boy and cheer him on, Carter’s face shines and his game shows the difference a parent’s words can make.

You can access Banister's entire interview here.