“Have Fun, Play Hard, I Love You.”
“HAVE FUN, PLAY HARD, I LOVE YOU”
A few years ago I read a story written by Dr. Tim Elmore and I came across six magical words; Have Fun, Play Hard and I Love You. Dr. Tim Elmore is a leading
authority on how to understand the next generation and prepare tomorrow’s leaders today. He is a best-selling author, international speaker, and president
of Growing Leaders, a nonprofit that helps develop emerging leaders under the philosophy that each child is born with leadership qualities. Dr. Elmore’s column
was based on youth sports and the role of parents, something I have been asked to speak on for many years now.
I have been very fortunate in my life, especially the last few years to spend time with a lot of very successful people in the world of youth sports. This has allowed
me to mold my own philosophy of what youth sports are truly meant to be. I confess, my views have changed drastically over the last couple of years,
I learned that life is not all about how many wins your child’s team can record or how bad you can beat the other team or about demanding perfection from
children too young to deliver perfection. My hundreds of hours with the late Coach Lou Presutti, founder of Cooperstown Dreams Park, a baseball heaven for
12 year old players, taught me so much. I have learned that baseball, like other sports is about producing lifelong memories and lessons that have nothing to do
with the final score. I have become very good friends with Kevin Bumgarner, the father of San Francisco Giants all-star pitcher Madison Bumgarner. I have
learned from him the importance of having fun and keeping a proper perspective on life and the game. There are many others locally and across the region that
have shared their life-long lessons in hopes of helping others enjoy their chosen sport.
Going back to Dr. Elmore’s column, he speaks of the words for a parent to say before and after the competition.
Before the Competition: “Have Fun, Play Hard, I Love You.”
After the competition: “Did You Have Fun? I’m Proud of You. I Love You.”
Those words are so true and if you think about it, they should apply both in the five year old soccer game and in the varsity football game at the local high
school. Are any of these games life or death situations? NO. Regardless of the talent level of your child, what is truly more important than delivering an enjoyable
experience to THEM? Are they the ones playing the game or is this for your satisfaction as a parent? Easy questions to answer when you step back for a
minute to realize that the third grade basketball game your son just lost because his friend dribbled the ball of his foot with three seconds to go is not going to
amount to a hill of beans in the scheme of life. Five minutes later, he and his friend are going to be running around in the parking lot enjoying their friendship.
Dr. Elmore goes on to mention the six simple words that college athletes said they enjoyed hearing from their parents after a game. The overwhelming response
was, “I love to watch you play.”
The only thing I would add to that, is three more words. “I love to watch you play. I LOVE YOU.”