I had the privilege of coaching in the NFL for 28 years. At the end of my career, one of the most frequent questions I would get asked was, “How have the players changed over the years?” My answer was that so many more of them were coming to us without the benefit of growing up with their dads. The statistics for NFL players mirror those for young men in general in America, and that is a growing concern. Because, present or absent, dads shape lives. We have a number of difficulties facing our nation, but I believe fatherlessness is right at the top of the list.
Kids today need dads. They don’t need a perfect dad, but they need an involved dad. When a father can’t be involved, a mentor can be a wonderful surrogate. This is where so many athletes have benefited from that relationship with their coach.
But there’s no substitute for a full-time dad. Dads who are fully engaged with their kids overwhelmingly tend to produce children who believe in themselves and live full lives. And when dads are involved, we see direct correlations to decreases in gang activity, substance abuse and incarcerations.