My 11-year old son likes to play video games. Check that. He loves to play video games. Sports games, to be precise. Pretty normal kid, right? Except I’m not sure other kids call the game as they are playing it. Like they are a sportscaster sitting up in a booth high above the field or court. My son does this. And he does it rather passionately and loudly.
The other day I was walking through as he was playing a basketball game on the PS3. He was commentating on it with so much volume, you would have thought he was a professional calling the closing moments of Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Or he was being attacked by something extremely terrifying. Such was the level of enthusiasm in his delivery and the intensity of the pitch in his voice. I thought I would take the opportunity to point out that he might make a career of it someday. So I said to him as I was passing by, “You’re going to be a sportscaster when you grow up.”
“They’re going to be sportscasting me.”
It took me a minute to recover from the quickness of his response and the brash confidence in his attitude. I admit, I was pretty pleased with it. But I also wanted to use his response as a teachable moment. So after I composed myself, I said this to him:
“They don’t sportscast people who play video games.”
My son loves to play basketball. He’s been playing since he was in Kindergarten and it’s one of those things that I’ve never had to ask him or push him to do. He wants to play. He truly enjoys it. And he’s gotten a lot better over the years. He’s got potential, if he works his tail off, to get his college tuition paid for at some level. But he has to want it enough to turn the video games off and get out on the court and practice. My comment was a message to him. A message that I have continually placed before him, around him, and into him for years now. If you want to succeed, you have to work hard. If you want something, you have to want it bad enough to pay the price, to practice, to get after it, to sacrifice.
The other day, my family and I all watched the movie, “The Pistol” together. It’s the story of Pete Maravich. A scrawny kid who, because of his commitment and dedication to practicing basketball, went on to become the highest scoring collegiate basketball player of all time at L.S.U. and who enjoyed an extremely successful pro career in the NBA. He’s someone I want my son to emulate.
In one scene, Pistol Pete is narrating his thoughts when he was a 90-pound eighth-grader on a varsity team dominated by seniors. He talked about his desire to get more playing time, and his belief that he could thrive if only given a chance. He made it clear that the confidence he had came from the fact that he had spent 10,000 hours practicing basketball drills since he was 5-years old. 10,000 hours. When he said this, my son’s jaw dropped and he looked over at me in disbelief. I quickly pulled out my phone and did the math. 10,000 hours divided by 8 years came out to approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes of practice a day. Every day. For 8 years. My son was blown away. And, frankly, so was I.
My son is confident. Recently, he came up to me in all sincerity and said, “Daddy, if I just play one year of college ball and then go to the NBA, I can play against LeBron James!” I took it as yet another opportunity to emphasize how hard athletes have to work in order to achieve that level of success. I didn’t discourage him, or point out that very few people ever make it that far. No way. If that’s what he wants to do, I will be his biggest cheerleader. I want him to have confidence. But as his father, it’s my responsibility to make sure his confidence is coming from the right place.
- Confidence in the abilities God has given him.
- Confidence in who God created him to be.
- Confidence because he knows his mother and I will support him, 100%, no matter what.
- Confidence because he’s given his blood, sweat, and tears to something. That he will succeed, not because he’s entitled to success, but because he’s made the sacrifices and paid the price.
One of our most important roles as parents is instilling confidence in our children. But it’s so critical that we provide them with the right kind of confidence. Not confidence in their own strength, their pedigree, or some mistaken sense of entitlement.
But an unwavering belief that, with God, all things are possible.