You know Tom Brady as one of the best and most successful quarterbacks of all time. You may also know him as the husband of world famous supermodel, Gisele Bündchen. Then again, you might associate Tom Brady with the term “deflategate.”
There are a lot of ways to refer to Tom Brady in today’s sport-obsessed, celebrity-filled world, but one way you should start thinking of Brady is family man. Little is known about Brady’s children, as he appropriately keeps that aspect of his life private, but the father of four was recently quoted as saying that he hopes his kids are “late bloomers.”
While no parent wants their child to fall behind, what Brady is referring to is early sports specialization. He echoes the fears of so many parents, commenting that “competition [it feels like it] starts so early for these kids, whether it’s to get into college, or to get into the right high school, or the right elementary school.” Specialization, of any activity, seems to be gaining in popularity among young children, despite what the research says.
With all the evidence on the planet, it still seems that families feel pressure from coaches and other parents to enroll their kids in a full calendar of organized activities. Even Tom Brady feels the shift from his own childhood experience where he recounts playing a different sport in each season.
“My parents always exposed us to different things, different sports. It was basketball when it was basketball season, it was baseball when it was baseball season. I didn’t play football ’til I was a freshman in high school. A lot of soccer. And there were just some camps. But I just played in the neighborhood in our street with all the kids that we grew up with.”
Times have changed, though, and neighbourhood playtime isn’t quite like it used to be. It’s a fact of modern society. So what can we do? As parents and educators we can be active role models, make time for unstructured play, and as Brady puts it, “sometimes it’s nice just for kids to be kids.”
Whatever your opinion of Tom Brady the athlete, celebrity, and endorsement-machine is, Tom Brady the parent makes a valid point. His brood of late bloomers will likely be exposed to a lot of opportunities and you’ll find more than footballs in their yard. And of all the touchdowns he’s thrown for in his lustrous career, this might be his best:
“The more you’re exposed to, I think the better opportunity there is for all kids to figure out what they really want to do in life.”