Video Games and Kids: The Easy Ways to Live Out Your Hopeless Sports Dreams

Matthew GilmartinSenior Analyst IJune 27, 2008

You wanted to be a professional athlete when you were a kid, right?  You wanted to lead your team to the championship, right?  You wanted to be the hero, right?

Sooner or later, you realized that you didn't stand a chance to live out your dream and become a professional athlete.

I've been there and done that even though I'm only 16. 

My dream was to play in the NBA.  But, around the end of 8th grade, I realized that I didn't have a chance to go pro.  I hadn't started for my school team, and I hadn't even thought about playing AAU.  I gave it up.  Yet, there was still a way to live out my tarnished dream.

Video games. 

Millions of people, men and women alike, play them.  Back when I still loved basketball but knew I couldn't go pro, I played NBA 2K7.  Of course, I played with the Bobcats, my favorite team (yes, I know that they're terrible). 

In the "Associate" mode (a mode in which you play with one team over many seasons) I won the NBA Championship with the 'Cats, and won every game by twenty points. 

The game gave me a chance to live out my dreams, albeit virtually, of playing in the NBA for my favorite team and winning it all.

Lots of kids play sports video games for the same reason.  Some play to put themselves in the place of their hero—a young Houston Rockets fan might play as Tracy McGrady.

But, that method covers only a limited portion of the American populace.  There are also the parents to consider.

Parents, like everyone, had childhood dreams related to playing pro sports, and chances are their dreams weren't realized.

Many parents, like their kids who play video games to emulate a career as a pro athlete, try to live out their unfulfilled sports dreams through their kids. 

Let's take basketball for example. 

Say a D-I college basketball star crashes headlong into a tree while driving drunk.  The accident leaves him with an injury that ends his playing career. The player is devastated. 

Years later he has a son, who develops a love of basketball.  As the son gets older, he gets better and better.  Eventually he becomes good enough that the former player-turned-dad thinks his son can make it to the pros.  So the dad tries to help him along—only he tries too hard. 

The dad becomes his son's biggest advocate, and, as a result, he becomes the kind of sports dad no son wants. 

He shouts a million instructions to his son that he feels will be helpful, but are only confusing the kid. He also screeches at the ref for every call made against his son during every game.  He tries to mold his son's game to fit the game he had in his playing days—even if the two don't fit well. 

The dad tries to make his son the spitting image of himself in an attempt to fulfill his personal, childhood hopes and dreams.  He wants to see his son as a reincarnation of himself, and make it big so he also feels as though he made it.

Eventually the dad gets so far under the son's skin that he quits basketball.  Both the father and the son are unhappy.  The disagreement between the son and the dad could remain the stigma of their relationship and create eternal resentment between them. 

And if you're a parent reading this, I bet that's one of your worst nightmares. 

I personally recommend the former version of living out your unfulfilled pro sports-related dreams.  It can be really fun.