ESPN’s Hannah Storm is always on the go, from anchoring the morning SportsCenter to hosting the NBA playoffs. Yet her involvement with sports doesn’t stop when she’s off the air. The mother of three girls — ages 14, 12 and 10 — plays an active supporting role in the varying interests of her children.
Storm authored the recently re-released book Go Girl, designed to guide parents on how to raise healthy, confident and successful girls through sports. In honor of Mother’s Day, Storm gives some insight on being a sports parent in today’s world:
FR: What inspired you to write a book about sports parenting?
Storm: I began writing the book years ago when my oldest daughter was four and I made a series of rookie mistakes when it came to raising my own child and her sports participation. I had been a figure skater growing up, but I put her on figure skates too early to disastrous results. I also put her on a soccer team that didn’t work out and then I wanted to buy her a bike and wasn’t sure which one was age appropriate. So even though I had been a network sportscaster at that time for nearly two decades, I had no idea how to navigate the world of sports with my own child. I went looking for resources and there weren’t any so I decided to write a book.
FR: How can a girl’s participation in sports lead to success in life?
Storm: First off, the American business model is built on team principles. At ESPN, it takes a team to get one show on the air. In fact, 80 percent of Fortune 500 female executives had a sports background. Also, sports make girls more comfortable with themselves physically because sports enable you to use your body to have fun and achieve. As girls get older, sports participants have much lower rates of eating disorders and lower rates of anything self-abusive like alcohol, drugs or teen pregnancy. You are just more comfortable in your own skin. It’s really powerful on an emotional level as well.
FR: How can parents help kids choose the right sports?
Storm: The important thing to remember is that your child isn’t necessarily going to like playing the same sport you did. You have to be really open-minded. I have a horseback rider, an ice hockey player and a lacrosse player for daughters and I didn’t come near any of those sports growing up. These are the sports they gravitated to, were comfortable with and had fun doing. When I say sports, I’m not just talking soccer and softball. I count activities like yoga, cheerleading and ballet as sports. It’s common for teenage girls to suffer from depression and yoga is prescribed a lot because it gets you moving and it’s meditative.
FR: What makes a great sports parent?
Storm: It’s starts when kids are very young. If you read with your child at a young age, that will foster a fundamental love of reading because they associate it with great feelings and being with their parents. The same goes with sports. Do whatever you can outside with your kid. Do something physically active and fun for them. They will associate that running around and having a good time with being with you. As your child gets a little older, you should try and avoid putting your kids in team sports too early (the American Academy of Pediatrics says six is the optimum age), which is the mistake I made.
FR: How much does winning contribute to a child’s interest in sports?
Storm: Winning and losing is not among the top 10 reasons girls compete in sports. With boys, it’s only Number 7. Having fun is number one for both boys and girls, and the most important reason kids quit is because they are no longer having fun. So if you love a sport and your team is not winning, you are not going to quit. As a parent, don’t ask your kid if they won or lost. Don’t prioritize it. They will tell you anyway. The focus should be on having fun. Ask questions like “Did you do it better than you did before?” or “Did you learn something today?
FR: What’s a great Mother’s Day memory involving your mother?
Storm: When I did the NBA playoffs on NBC, there were a few years when the Houston Rockets advanced in the playoffs so I would be broadcasting on Mother’s Day in Houston. My mother happens to live in Houston and would come to the games. It was great. They used to put her on the air and wish her a Happy Mother’s Day. She had the biggest smiles on her face and she was so proud.
FR: What’s your favorite part of Mother’s Day?
Storm: The ultimate to me is when my kids serve me any kind of food in bed. To wake up to whatever they bring – toast, orange juice, anything. My girls have a lot of fun with that. They go out in the garden to pick a little flower and put it on there and they bring up the newspaper too. That is the greatest moment of the day. I’d rather have that than anything.