I don’t remember the first time I watched a game of football, I would have been a baby probably. My grandmother loved to watch it and would spend quite a bit of time explaining the rules to me and my brother. Watching the football was about getting together as a family and sharing the common goal of cheering on our team.
It was a lot of fun, and I cherished that time with my grandmother. There’s nothing better than introducing new fans to the game, melding small minds into becoming supporters of your own favourite team.
But when you watch sport with your kids (or your nieces and nephews, or your friends’ kids) they’re learning about more than just how to apply the offside rule. And a lot of the learning is coming directly from you, not the game.
1. How to handle defeat.
This is probably the biggest one, and you would be surprised how much of a kid’s attitude to losing is really drawn from the reactions of the people around them, not the reactions of the team on the field.
If you get angry, or blame the other side, or blame the referees, or don’t accept the result with grace and good humour, that’s going to be how a child watching you will think is the way to react when things don’t go your way.
2. How to celebrate a win.
Again, if you want a smug, gloating, insufferable winner in the family, by all means behave like that when your team wins. It’s fun to win, it makes you feel good, but for every person celebrating a win, there’s one ruing a loss. Teach your kids to have a bit of empathy, enjoy the success but don’t get cocky about it. Next week could be a very different story.
"Enjoy the success but don't get cocky about it." Image: Supplied.
3. That winning is not just about the game.
One thing that's become more and more ubiquitous over the years is the linking of sports and gambling. You can't watch a football match on TV without being bombarded with odds, and ever-easier ways to bet on everything from who will win, to who will make an unforced error first. In this environment, winning becomes about more than the scoreboard, and if you're watching the betting market, you can bet your kids are too.