View From the Press Box: Dion Clisso 3/27

Dion Clisso

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Posted: March 27, 2015 - 8:32 AM

As spring sports have begun I find myself in a new spot in my life. I am now a parent of a child playing sports.

My son, who turns five in April, is entering his first year of real team sports. He has done some group activities in the past but this year is the first time he is on a team, has practice before games and plays a full season.

Right now he is in soccer and will soon start t-ball. Unfortunately those seasons overlap. I don’t understand why that needs to happen at this age but it does and if he is still having fun we will manage the situation.

As he has begun this journey my wife and I have told him there are three rules he must follow. First, listen to the coach, second play hard and third have fun. Nothing else matters. If he follows those rules and enjoys what he is doing we are proud of him and will support him if he chooses to continue as he gets older.

My son is much like me when I was young. Whatever sport was on the television at the time he wants to play. If it is baseball season he wants to play baseball, football etc. I hope he never loses that love of multiple sports. That has been one of the joys of my life and I hope he continues.

As my wife and I start this journey with him it is with some apprehension. In my 20 years of journalism I have seen a lot of things. Many great examples of athletes supported and encouraged by their parents who get what sports are about. At the same time there are many who have lost or never had the right mentality when it comes to their children playing sports.

I have seen an epidemic of parents berating coaches, players and other fans as they lose sight of the why children of all ages should play sports. It’s not to start a pro career, it’s not to just earn a scholarship and it’s not to make up for any unrealized dreams of the parent. Sports are the greatest vehicle we have to build character and teach responsibility and teamwork. If any of those other things happen it’s just icing on the cake.

I loved playing sports when I was young. I just wanted to play I didn’t care what it was. I never got burned out. My parents never told me I had to play this or that. They let me have fun and I became self-motivated to play those sports. This went on well after any opportunity to earn college money or go pro was long gone. I played softball and rec league basketball well into my 30s and now play golf with as much enthusiasm as I played football when I was 12.

My experience in youth sports made me a better person in every way. I know how to take direction, work as a team, have a good work ethic and respect others. Now it is my job to make sure my son gains the same skills as he gets older.

One thing I now have to focus is to make sure he enjoys whatever sport or activity he chooses and make sure he gets the most out of it. It was a gift my parents gave to me and I must give to my son.