It’s Football Season Again! 

For North Texans, September marks the return of early morning football practices and bands marching on the school parking lot. School has been in full swing for several weeks, and kiddos are back to a routine. What a relief to most parents that their teens are again staying awake when the sun is also awake! Hopefully along with being awake, we might hear a few more words as they share about their days at school.  

In the Leon household, it is the last year of middle school. I have an 8th grader who is playing football with the school. Needless to say, it is challenging to make it to 6:30am football practice after a summer of staying up late and sleeping in until mid-morning. The morning practices have paid off- and there have been several positive games for the football players to bond as a team.  

As I watch from the stands and cheer for my son’s team, I realize that athletics offers multiple moments of golden teaching opportunities to our students, and also to parents. How so?  

With any sport, there is always a winning and a losing player/team. When the team is scoring and the scoreboard shows a lead, it is thrilling. But as glorious as it is to complete plays and make that touchdown, there are many more times when the plays don’t work and the football never reaches the endzone. When this happens, it becomes apparent that our teens get frustrated and yellow penalty flags are seen.  

Why? As we know, it isn’t fun to be on the losing side. The yellow penalty flags reflect what our teens are doing when they are losing. It becomes easy to place blame on other teammates, or to lash out in frustration with an extra kick to the opponent who is down, or to yell inappropriate words at the referee. Even parents grow frustrated with their child’s team, and it is not uncommon for adults to lose their cool while watching the game.  

What life lessons do we want our children to learn? What character traits do we want to impart to our teens? I believe that it is under these circumstances that we can grab opportunities to teach our children about building a character of integrity.  

What does integrity look like for our young teens? Here are a few thoughts to consider: 

  1. Play clean. Follow the rules of the game. Explain that rules are set in place for their safety. As they become young adults and independent thinkers, we will want them to be law-abiding citizens at that time. 
  2. Look to self-improve. Don’t always be quick to blame others. In other words, teach them to be accountable for their own actions and this will pay off in the working world. 
  3. Respond to emotions in a healthy manner. Validate that the feelings of frustration and anger are okay. However, it is critical to teach them how to respond to their feelings in an appropriate way. For example, it is NOT okay to harm oneself or others in a fit a rage. But, it IS okay to vent at a punching bag in the gym. 

If you have other insightful ideas, I would love to hear about them. Please feel free to share them on our Facebook page.  Go Dallas Cowboys! Go Hunt MS Huskies!!