No, My Son Doesn’t Play Sports….Really, It’s Okay!


A visit to the doctor, orthodontist, school function or anywhere really, will alert you to the fact that people don’t know how to talk to your son, if he doesn’t play sports.

Our society is programmed in a way, that a boy who doesn’t play sports is an anomaly. What can we possibly have to say to a boy, if we can’t ask him about football, basketball or soccer?

My son not only doesn’t play sports……he doesn’t watch them either. GASP!! I know, it’s a tragedy right?

My son has a deep abiding empathy for others.

My son is a critical thinker.

My son is constantly questioning the world.

My son is not a box checker.

My son has a thirst for knowledge about space that won’t quit.

But the world has no questions for him except for, “so….do you play basketball”?

REALLY? This thirteen year old boy, who could change the world has to constantly answer why he isn’t interested in sports. Can’t we do better than that?

Until age eleven, I watched my son pick grass on the baseball field. I watched him run half-heartedly down a basketball court and cheer for his teammates every single time they scored. Like a good American, we tried every single sport there was, encouraging him to get involved, and choose from the buffet our country offers.

The looks I get from other mothers when I say that I gave him the choice at age eleven whether to play sports or not… one of reprehension.

How dare I guide and support instead of mold him in the image that is expected for our boys.

I get it, I really do…our boys are to follow a plan set out for success right? We believe that you get them involved in sports, they play through high school, gaining popularity and acceptance along the way. This quells our fears. Society has instilled a fear in us that if our boy doesn’t play sports, than he is uninvolved. He is clearly sitting around doing nothing.

We ignore the statistics behind head trauma.

We ignore the statistics regarding how many of those boys actually play in college.

We ignore whether our children are enjoying themselves.

We ignore what their true passion might be.

We ignore that competitive sports keep them so busy, they have little time for much else.

I am not saying that sports don’t have absolute value. They do. Especially if your son or daughter loves the sport. They push themselves, they learn about themselves, they challenge themselves and meet those challenges. All really good things.

If your son or daughter doesn’t have passion for the sport, I mean real passion. Then what are we doing?

Why not look deeper? Why not look beyond societies expectations.

To what degree does your child’s involvement in sports have to do with YOU?

What if, we got to know our child? What if we asked them if they wanted to play sports or get involved in robotics, student government, forensics, or the like?

What if we said, who are you and what do you like?

What if we said, it’s okay to not like sports?

What if we said, whoever you are is enough?

What if we put our desires aside and opened the door for more?

The self-worth gained from a parent who says “you are enough” is valuable beyond measure. That parent opens the door to more. That parent learns more about their child and more about themselves than ever before.

We owe our boys more than funneling them into a system they don’t fit into. If your boy isn’t an athlete….guess what. It’s okay. They are going to be okay.

You are enough, and so are they.

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  • Russ says:

    Thank you for this article! It’s not just true for our sons but also for some of us men out there. My dad pushed me into just about every sport as a kid, but I just never had a passion for any of it, and the more he pushed, the less I liked sports. I am now in my 40s and still get asked about sports by other men as if that’s all there is to talk about. I used to act like I cared, but the older I get the more I just tell people I’m not interested in sports. Finding male friends that don’t like sports is sadly not easy. We non-sports players and watchers are in the minority, and there’s no great “not interested in sports” outlet for men. Thanks for broaching this subject which is important for boys and men alike.

    • kforeman says:

      Thanks Russ! Maybe you are tasked with the force of creating such a group of men in your area? Guys that couldn’t care less about a ball being thrown around, kicked around, and thrown up and down! 😉 I definitely see some benefits from kids playing sports, but I will never understand the fascination with it. I truly believe its a cultural thing and the more you grow…..well, you know the rest.

    • Bill Caudill says:

      Greetings, Russ. I’m in complete agreement with you, and you have my full sympathy. You might be able to get acquainted online with others who share our views. Some members of large forum websites even have occasional get-togethers. Even getting to know a single guy online can be a good experience. There are at least a few websites for people like you and me who have issues with the sports culture. I hope Kerry won’t mind if I recommend two websites and provide links to them:


      Unless I’m mistaken, this URL should link you to the Closed Group “I HATE SPORTS” — a support group that currently has 1,265 members. I’m one of them. Trolls are kept out. Becoming a member is easy.


      This forum, which is only a few years old, has a small membership and currently is largely (but not completely) inactive. But that can change with the addition of new members who are actually willing to post. I’ve been serving as a moderator in this forum (under the username “Earl”). I like this format better than Facebook’s because it allows for more of a discussion between two or more members.

      Russ, you can communicate with active members of either forum by means of PM. I’d be delighted to hear from you! So would my wife (“Mrs. Earl”), who’s a member of the forum with the small membership.

      By the way, there are some sports fans who are tolerant of those of us who have had issues with sports. A close friend of mine played football in high school and is still in shape. (Of course, his job is so demanding that he doesn’t have time to work out anymore.) He’s aware of the existence of websites such as the two mentioned above and believes that they should be respected and not trolled. He also objects to the negative stereotyping of boys who have no interest in sports.

      A sports fan and a guy who “hates” sports may have other interests in common. For example, my friend mentioned above and I are both Christians and members of the same congregation; and we share a great enthusiasm for Twilight Zone and Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes.

  • Bill Caudill says:

    Kelly, I wanted to personally express my deep appreciation of your article. I just posted a comment at Huffington, but I wanted to post here as well.

    I am a 65-year-old man who has been happily married to the same woman for over 30 years, and I’m also the proud father of two young ladies who are far better human beings and have accomplished far more than I’ve ever done. At the age of 57, I joined a health club and started working with a personal trainer at a health club on a bodybuilding program. But I never had an interest in sports when I was a boy. As far as I’m concerned, the culture of school sports has had a pernicious impact in the lives of nonathletic boys. Well, you can read my post on the Huffington page.

    I was quite angered by some of the sports fans, but not surprised at all. I posted a response to Hardin’s reply, which he also posted on his Facebook page. Earlier this afternoon I posted my own personal ottbservations about his comments, as follows:

    [beginning of quotation]You seem to contradict yourself. You say you appreciate Kelly’s article; but I suspect you’re prejudiced against nonathletic guys, boys and men, and consider them to be effeminate. I’m quite familiar with the mindset. In school all of my mandatory phys ed coaches viewed nonathletic boys with indifference or contempt. They didn’t offer any fitness programs for them, and they didn’t even teach us about sports. When I was 15 years old, a psychologist sent me to a judo instructor, a white guy who had previously played football at a local university. I always felt like an outsider at his dojo. After I had graduated from high school, I found out why when he made some interesting comments to me in private conversation. First, he said that he had saved me from homosexuality! (Tell that to my wife.) He believed that only athletes and blue-collar workers were “real men.” He disregarded the great courage of the Soviet human rights activist Andrei Sakharov possibly because he was jealous of him. (I wonder if Sakharov played sports when he was a boy.) He also had no problem with bullying.

    The truth is there are many extremely successful men who never had an interest in sports when they were boys. They contradict the mindset that is so prevalent among many fans, coaches, and athletes that nonathletic guys are inferior. You wonder why some guys don’t like sports. It’s because they are painfully aware of the bigotry on the part of those who view them as being deficient. Nonathletic boys don’t care to hear they’re “unmanly” simply because they’re not interested in playing sports. I wish you knew how emotionally painful that is to kids. Has it ever occurred to you that many nonathletic boys are bullied simply because they don’t like sports? Some people obviously don’t respect the personal preferences of others. I’ve never looked down on any guy for participating in a sport, but a childhood friend of mine who played football at another school would tell me decades later that most of his teammates had viewed the nonathletic guys at their school as being inferior. I take comfort in the fact that there are athletic guys who don’t share your dismissive attitude against nonathletes.

    I see that you are Jewish and therefore assume you’ve heard of the “Righteous Gentile” Raoul Wallenberg, who was one of the greatest heroes of WW2 (even though he was a noncombatant). He worked under horrendous stress and risked his life repeatedly to save the lives of thousands of Hungarian Jews. Undoubtedly, some of the men whose lives he saved were physically stronger than he was. But he saved them when they were helpless. You might be interested to know that Wallenberg, according to his half-sister, “detested competitive team sports.” Was Wallenberg a wimp? Did he know nothing about “teamwork”? The next time you’re inclined to look down on nonathletic guys, please remember Wallenberg.

    By the way, as a middle-aged man, I’ve taken up bodybuilding as a permanent commitment. I’ve already spent a small fortune on personal trainers. But I would not set foot in a health club until I was 57 years old, and one of the reasons why is because I believed (wrongfully) that health clubs were the exclusive property of guys like you who had a dismissive attitude towards nonathletes like me.[end]

    As you can see, this is a very painful issue to me. I detest bullies and bigots. No wonder, I grew up under Jim Crow. (I’m white, by the way.) I had not been dwelling on P.E. since junior high. I hadn’t thought about it much until, ironically, my first personal trainer pointed out to me that I had been defrauded as a nonathletic student in mandatory phys ed because there had been no instruction at all concerning the way games are played and how to develop the physical skills that are used in different games.

    This is not my best writing. I’m tired. I won’t be posting any more at Huffington because I’m sick and tired of trying to reason with people on the Internet. I’ve never seen so much hatred in my life. You name it, it’s readily available to read — hatred of blacks, Jews, women, and yes, hatred of those who have been hurt by the culture of school sports. I’m experiencing Internet burnout. I’ll be cutting way, way back on my posting; and I’ll also not read any of the comments, which is where most of the hatred is found. Needless to say, your blog is not in this category.

    Again, I deeply appreciate your article. But I don’t appreciate the Kevin W. Hardins of this world. Not at all.

    Best regards,
    Bill Caudill

    • kforeman says:

      Truly appreciate you taking the time to write Bill. I am so sorry you have had such negative experiences with sports. I will say, it is a skill to ignore “internet trolls” who comment negatively just to get a response back. I encourage you to do what you are doing and just scroll past them…..power!! Sounds like you have come a long way in your life and have a very happy one. That is all you need to know, and your successes speak for themselves!!

  • Holly Ellithorpe says:

    I can not tell you how much I appreciate this article! Thank you, Thank you!! I have two boys one plays sports and one doesn’t. I’m so tired of the looks on people’s faces when I say my oldest doesn’t play sports. It’s like they feel sorry for us or something. I want to scream you should see him in debate, or in Thespian Club, or answering questions far above his age! This made my day! Thank you so much ?

    • kforeman says:

      I get the same look!! Like, awwww I’m so sorry your boy CAN’T play sports. Truth be told he was pretty good for his age and could have played into high school possibly with some practice. However, he finds sports silly, and truly doesn’t understand our societies obsession with it. Your son sounds wonderfully well rounded!! Thanks for taking the time to comment!!

  • Outstanding! I am 82, Not been prescribed any Meds, feel great, completely functional, no aches or pains, still working at what I love and have never paid the slightest attention to “sports”.
    And I still have “problems” with people who look at me very oddly when they comment on the latest scores and I express indifference.

    I really don’t care, sports have never interested me yet I have been blessed with a full life, having supported myself for the last 55 years as an independent consultant in high tech, pilot, father, husband until fifteen years ago, and life goes on very well thank you!

    Would love to chat one on one but that is unlikely to happen! We are probably on opposite sides of the continent first and far too busy otherwise.

    • kforeman says:

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. Our society is so programmed to raise sports figures up. I definitely believe that there are many benefits to playing sports, and did so myself as a child, however, as you stated, there is absolutely no harm in not playing sports. Thanks for listening to my words!!

  • I got good info from your blog

  • Lindsay Fields says:

    I read your article on and I felt like you were speaking about my own son, who is 9, and other than the occasional shooting of hoops or playing baseball for fun after school has no interest in playing sports. He instead loves art, music, movies and building and has one of the most creative imaginations I have ever seen. And I have been there, as you have, feeling a little uncomfortable like I have to have a big explanation as to why he doesn’t play a team sport. I used to wonder if it was because we didn’t just go ahead and put him in sports when he was younger, but my husband had not been given that option when he was little, and while he is very athletically talented, he always resented that it was something that he “had” to do. And looking back I don’t think my son would have enjoyed it. He’s just not wired that way. Anyway, I hardly ever make comments on things I read online. But it’s always nice to see kindred spirits out there. Many thanks!

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