Sports for Parents Who Don't Do Sports

Baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey, football—these are all sports we know. But how many of us are actually interested in them?

I'll be the first to admit that I am not your typical sports mom. I don't run down the field yelling encouragement and tips to my kids as they play soccer. I actually have no idea what is going on most of the game. I just know which direction they should be running.

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As a kid, I tried various sports in the way that most kids in America do. I played softball for two seasons. I was horrible. I'm sure the coach had to take a nap after trying to teach me how to play. I was clumsy, slow and just not all that into it. I tried gymnastics as a kid, but was only so-so. I swam for a season with my high school swim team and, although I was one of the better JV swimmers, I got sick so often from riding the subway home with cold, wet hair in winter, I had to quit.

My parents didn't really care. As long as we got outside, they were fine with my lack of sports skills. We did other "sporty" things together instead.

Now that I have my own kids, I'm faced with a barrage of sportiness in my house. My boys want to play soccer, baseball, basketball and football. They regularly play street hockey with the neighborhood kids. I encourage all of this, but it is still foreign to me. Their dad plays with them, but I get active with and without my family in other ways.

Running may not be a sport to some, but it is actually a sport. So is dancing, in fact. I do both, and I love them. Running is a labor of love as I pound out every mile that I can a few days a week. Sometimes my boys ride scooters to keep up with me. Sometimes I just hit the trail alone.

In between the birth of my two boys, I was regularly swing and salsa dancing to stay in shape. I've always loved to dance, and you will regularly find me dancing in my kitchen with my boys.

We also hike, bike and take walks together as a family. We throw the Frisbee around (no ultimate Frisbee yet, but I bet it is coming). We play mini-golf around the house and whenever we are at the beach (the 3-year-old is really good!). I've taken my kids skiing, snowboarding, horseback riding and kayaking—all in the hopes of giving my kids a love of the outdoors and a desire to stay active, whether they play traditional sports or not.

And that's what I think is most important—being an active family, role-modeling an active lifestyle, one where trying new things and finding new interests is encouraged.

You don't have to be a sporty parent who understands all of the rules to be sporty with your kids. You just have to, you know, get moving.

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Play golf with them, run, hike, climb trees, play ping-pong, badminton, tennis, take a tai kwon do class together, throw darts, toss bocce balls, swim and bowl—anything to get your body moving with your kids.

There are so many sports out there that don't require pads, special shoes, outfits and a book of rules that would rival the length of your average dictionary. And that don't really require a whole lot of know-how.

You just need to find something, anything, that you love. And have fun with your kid doing it.

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Photograph by: Twenty20

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