The past few weeks the wife and I have been trying to explain the concept of sportsmanship to our five-year-old son Carter. You see, Carter likes to talk smack ALL the time and if he loses or gets scored on he pouts and often quits playing.
It's probably not that unusual a parenting dilemma. My wife checked out a few books at the library aimed at young kids about boasting and losing and he's liked a few of them and he's starting to replace some of his trademark sayings like "That's so easy," when he stops a goal or another child does something at the park that Carter is able to do.
But he's still waaay behind exhibiting good behavior in this arena.
Then I just happened to stumble across this video of Tom Brady miked for a game last week. A game against a tough team in which it looked like the Patriots were going to lose. You probably know they came back in the final minutes to win. I watched the first few seconds of the video and immediately called Carter to watch it.
Carter climbed onto my lap and watched.
I told him, "This is Tom Brady. He's the best quarterback in the NFL."
I hit the play button and Brady started talking to his offense before the game in an informal huddle.
"Let's play our best. Let’s have some fun today."
I did happen to skip the first part where he says "Let's go kick some ass."
But it was a perfect illustration to show Carter even if I was cringing inside every time I gave Brady his due.
I am a lifelong Dolphins fan after all … even if Carter is being raised in a Bears town.
"See, even the best quarterback there is tells his team to have fun and do their best," I explained.
Afterwards I reminded him, "What two things did Tom Brady say?" I had to coax it out of him and I don't know if it sank in but "have fun" and "do your best" are pretty simple instructions.
The rest of the video was pretty illuminating on a level for me as a manager of people. It was interesting to see how often Brady praised others. After the game-winning touchdown he ran up to the receiver and said "Way to go!" Even when another receiver made a huge mistake that led to an interception Brady simply asked him what happened and didn’t go off the handle. I know he's gone off the handle at coaches before but for the most part you have to admire his attitude under pressure.