Thursday, 19 September 2013

Finals Fever

Here in Australia it's that time of year again! The AFL and NRL finals are upon us and football fever is going nuts in the media. But for many of us, we just don't care that much. I mean I do enjoy a good barbeque or friendly get together on Grand Final day, but the fever is lost on many families who just aren't that into it.

Image courtesy of digitalart / 
I ask you this though, do any of your kids really love football? Or just sports in general? Do they madly follow a team or really want to be a superstar themselves one day? Maybe they just like to kick a ball around the yard in their free time.

If that's your child, for the next couple of weeks I'm asking you to embrace it. Even if you don't love the games yourself. Take a step back and have a look at the value in following the sport? A dream to follow, a role model to look up to. And THEN, look deeper for the educational values in following a sport. They might be hard to find at first, but I promise you they are there!

If you really can't see them, I'll make it easy for you and list some of them here :)
Image courtesy of Ambro /

Reading: Even if it bores you to tears! Get them to read to you. Especially out loud.

  • Read newspaper articles on their favourite team or players
  • Read the team names from the ladder board
  • Read the statistical guides in the paper
  • Grab a copy of the latest magazines on the sport and read articles from it
  • Even reading the player names listed in the teams is a great exercise. I spent years thinking my friend's name (Maher) was pronounced MAY-HER, when it was really just MAR.
  • It's Christmas coming up soon, get them a book on the sport or their favourite players to read 
Image courtesy of cooldesign /

Maths: Nobody likes maths right? WRONG! Sport lovers LOVE maths. They just don't know it! 

  • Keeping score is maths, especially if you follow the AFL. One goal is 6 points, and a "behind" is 1 point. Keeping track of that is hard in anybody's language, so it's brilliant for working on your 6 times tables.
  • All those player statistics in the newspaper and magazines that you skip over to look at the pictures? They are maths. The odds, the possessions, the scores, the number of games, injuries, all those numbers are maths! 
  • Player of Year Awards are even maths. I don't know what they call it in NRL, but in the AFL it's "Brownlow Medal Night". Sitting and watching those officials read out the votes for every match in every round can be as boring as watching paint dry. But keeping a track of the vote counts, and working out how many votes a player needs to get, and how many rounds they have left is a great way of working out who's going to win before they get to the end. So for one night a year, let them stay up late and watch, and encourage gently to work out those numbers. 
  • You could even sign them up for one of those Super Manager games online? Coaching is a great way to start looking at numbers in sport.
  • Or open up the computer or download a free app on the phone/tablet and do start making charts from the stats in the paper. You can do some really cool looking charts and graphs with the templates in those programs now.
DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT tell them you are encouraging all these things for educational value! If they even sniff a whiff of school type stuff here, they will bolt like horses! You can't force this kind of stuff, but you can be open minded to it :)

General Life Skills

Then there's the general stuff that kids can learn from following sports. They learn to watch how teams "play" together, analyse the on-field and off-field behaviour, morals and ethics, look up to people they admire and want to follow in the footsteps of.

Footy Finals Fever is a special time of year for some, and the bane of others' existence, but if you have a little one in the family who loves it, don't put a downer on it. Embrace the learning benefits and get caught up in the moment of seeing your kids excited and happy :)

Happy Learning!

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