I’m Travis Tygart, and I’m married and three kids, 17, Junior, our daughter, and then two sons. One is a ninth grader who’s 14, and a sixth grader who’s 11. And yeah, they love sport, whether it’s just shooting hoops in the driveway or snow skiing. Being here in Colorado is a great family thing that we love to do together. They play on the high school soccer team, and the young guy’s playing basketball and soccer.
Sport is not only important as a family, given all the positive attributes that it brings, but it obviously is my career. And so, it’s obviously personal to us. My entire family enjoys sort of participating in making sure sports stays pure and that winners are those who are playing by the rules and not people that are cheating to win.
If my kids stopped playing sport tomorrow, and that was their choice, totally fine for me. I would hope that they gained sort of the understanding of how to set goals, how to be healthy and stay fit, the enjoyment, the mental break and activity that you can have by participating in sports, just totally for fun. Whether it’s jogging or skiing, or just throwing the baseball around the backyard. And some of those meaningful traits as well, about how to be resilient, how to be mentally tough sometimes to get over some obstacles that are in your way, how to treat other people decently and with respect, how to be in a competitive environment and still be able to succeed and have great relationships, even with people that you might be competitors against.
It’s a tough culture as a parent these days because so frequently athletes who are trash talking or being disrespectful or trying to spike the ball when they score a touchdown and point fingers at the person they just beat, kids see it and kids want to emulate that. Doing stuff like that out on an 11-year-old soccer field is totally inappropriate. There are consequences that maybe those players don’t necessarily have. Teammates who feel bad, other players that feel bad.
I think the real challenge for parents in today’s society is to try to keep kids grounded. We’re not certainly advocating for everyone gets a trophy for just participating at the higher levels of youth sport. But, the dramatic shift where if you don’t win, you’re a loser and you have no value, that’s the imbalance that we risk in our current culture around youth sport. That we’re so focused on just being the winner at a young age, that it’s literally driving kids out of sport. It doesn’t become fun anymore because if they’re not winning, they feel devalued. They don’t feel like it’s enjoyable or meaningful anymore, and they’re leaving sport to go do something that maybe is not as competitive. So, we lose some of that intrinsic value when we push it to the extremes.
I think sportsmanship, it’s kind of the golden rule, like treat others as you would want them to treat you. Certainly you can joke and if you’re competing against friends, you can have fun. It’s not always real serious, but, if you get in a highly competitive game, whether you’re a coach or a parent or a player, I think it’s just treating people how you would expect them to treat you.
I’d love to see sportsmanship be valued more in our professional sports, our Olympic sports, in our society, more than it is today. I think it used to be in a much bigger way, but with our culture where everyone’s got to be unique, it’s a zero sum game where if you win, you got to make the other person feel not only that they lost, but they lost really bad and they’re really a loser. It’s kind of this us versus them mentality that I don’t think sport was ever supposed to be. In fact, sport, I think, was supposed to be a fond event between competitors who are making each other better and you respect your competitor for helping you become better.
I’d love to see people talking more about how important it is, valuing it, being rewarded for demonstrating it. Those are the kind of things as a society we ought to place more emphasis on as opposed to just lionizing the winner.