COMMENTARY: What I Want My Daughter to Get Out of Sports

Several years ago, when my daughter Carissa was about to enter her first gymnastics competition, I wrote her a letter expressing my hopes and goals for her athletic experience. Here’s a revised version:

My Dearest Carissa,

I know you’ve worked hard to prepare yourself to compete, and I know how much you want to win. That’s a good goal. You will always get the best out of yourself when you strive for victory.

But winning is not the only goal or even the most important one. What’s most important is to have fun and learn. I want you to love the sport so much that you find pleasure in the effort itself and in the friendship of your teammates and other competitors.

I want you to know you can do well – no matter who takes home the medals – if you do your best. And you will be a winner if you keep getting better. I want you to pursue excellence with all your heart, not to please me or your mom or anyone else, but to experience the joy of accomplishment.

If you wobble, keep going. If you fall, get up and continue. No matter what happens, keep your head high. Don’t give up or give in. If things don’t go your way, don’t cry, whine, or make excuses.

Always conduct yourself in a way that brings honor to your team, your coaches, your family and, above all, yourself. I want you to be a model of good sportsmanship, treating the sport, its rules, your teammates, other competitors, and judges with respect.

But most of all, I want you to know how proud of you I am.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

Comments 3

  1. This is a great story, but also one of the reasons why sports is a fitting metaphor for life. The way we’d like to see our children conduct themselves in the sports arena is how we want them to live their lives.

  2. I heard you speak at the American Baseball Coaches Convention several years ago – I enjoyed your positive take on life and sports – I enjoyed your letter to your daughter about enjoying the gymnastic experience – I lay out my season and hopes to my baseball players but I see an opportunity to write them a letter about what I really want them to hear from me – In 2007 I wrote a letter to my club after a slow start about how we were going to turn the season around – I then called a parent that had been hard on his son and me – Found out from the player that his Dad was drinking a great deal – We went on to win the State Championship – Not that a letter or a phone call wins state championships but it brought focus to what we needed to do to improve – I believe your club should be able to tell anyone what you stand for in your program – So we need to talk about what we stand for so players and parents move forward on the same page- I have coached for 48 years – 42 as a head baseball coach and I still get a thrill reading about how I can do my craft better -Thank You Bill McDonald

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