Two Tips for Watching Sports on TV with Your Kids

  by Dan MacLeay

The month of April! Spring is in the air!

You may be tempted to take your progeny out to the park and play on the merry-go-round or something. Stay away. Trust me on this one. I have five kids so I have felt the pull to go outside and throw the ball around in the yard or play by the crick. Whatever you do, do NOT go outside yet. Terrible idea. It is muddy, April showers have not yielded their promised results, etc. Instead, bask in the joy that April is the best month of the year for watching sports1. It’s true. Grab those buckaroos and hunker down for a sports binge watch.

April offers, in exact order of most fun to watch:

1. The Masters

The traditions (the winner gets to come back every year for life), the perfect course with tons of birdies on Sunday back 9’s, sappy CBS music, piped in bird sounds, the awkward jacket ceremony…the entire thing is a treat from above.

2. NBA Playoffs Begin

NBA playoffs begin mid-April and network TV/basic cable will show over 40 playoff games in 40 days. We are experiencing the NBA’s biggest talent boom ever, the best Eastern conference we’ve had in 10 years, the Warriors dynasty perhaps coming to an end…a real feast.

3. Baseball Home Openers 2

Delightful in every way. Day games, a real celebration of the host city and the upcoming summer. This day should be a local holiday for each host city with all businesses shut down like Chic-fil-a’s on a Sunday.

4. Playoff Hockey

Even if you don’t watch Hockey all year (it’s ok, nobody does), playoff hockey is spectacular. Super high pressure games, entire stadiums holding their breath, overtimes and game 7’s, and lots of Canada (America’s attic). The Canadian national anthem is better than anything on TV in all of August.

…and in dead last 3:

5. NCAA Final Four and Championship game 4

May I offer you some sports watching wisdom as you enjoy this bounty? I have put in my 10,000 hours in on this field, and I have two simple suggestions that will dramatically improve your sports watching experience with your children (especially the ones under six years old).

Turn the Sound Off

If you haven’t tried it, it will feel weird. Do it and stick with it for a while – it doesn’t take that long to get used to it. It will lower your engagement with the game slightly, but that’s a good thing. The commercials will seem a lot less jarring (which actually improves your game/event watching experience). The soundlessness makes it much easier to mentally engage with other people in the room. It will dramatically lower the overall ‘noise’ of the room, which—if you have as many small children as I do—is a massive improvement. Track your adult-kids interaction with the sound off. Your children will be far more likely to engage, and I believe you’ll experience the quality of that engagement going way up. It is possible to have an actual conversation.

I even frequently play music during games. Again, sounds weird. Try it, though—it’s great and much more relaxing then commentators yapping.

Sit on the Floor

This will sound like a small thing, and perhaps even seem silly reading it in print. Don’t be fooled. I can’t recommend this one enough if you have children under the age of 10. Take the cushion right off the couch, lean them against the front of the couch and sit right on the floor.

It is easy to forget how much physically bigger you and I are than a two- or four-year-old.  When I sit on the floor, I am now eye-to-eye with little Timmy. That makes me much less intimidating and much more approachable. The level of interaction skyrockets. My kids can now do a full cannonball on me from the couch, play catch with a foam ball, wrestle, or have snack.

It takes an exceptional dad to show the endurance and discipline to watch five basketball games in a row on Christmas day, but I put the work in and paid that price for you right now. Glean from my experience. My sincere hope for you is that you don’t waste these warm weather months picking strawberries, risking sunburns, or—God forbid—camping.   

1 October is the only other real contender. October has NBA basketball back, MLB playoffs (a guy got the name Mr. October, so that’s strong. No Mr. April in any sport yet), great college football weather, NFL rounding into form, NHL, golf on TV, etc.

2 This should be a local city-wide holiday. It’s always a day game. The unofficial start of summer even if the weather is bad for another 6 weeks, great event.

3 Editor’s Note: Author’s opinions do not necessarily represent those of dadcraft.

4 Sorry college basketball fans, all your best players are in the NBA and your product is unabashedly terrible. You can’t truly enjoy watching basketball, and enjoy watching teams grind out wins in the 40 and 50 point range. No outside shooting equals no floor spacing. Trae Young just scored 49 points with 16 assists. He would be a Sophomore. Jamal Murray scored 48 earlier this year. He and Devon Booker (scored 70 last year) would be the starting backcourt at Kentucky in 2018-2019 if they had to stay 4 years. Karl Anthony-Towns would be their center. They would still lose to Duke. (Zion, Bagley, Ingram, and Taytum all start. They have 4 other players under 22 in the NBA right now, but point guard is still open. Maybe Tyus Jones, who is 22yrs old and playing well for the Timberwolves.) There is a massive talent boom in basketball right now but it’s hard for college basketball to capitalize when players are in school for 6 total months.


If you’re looking for something other then sports to watch, check our media reviews and suggestions. We do defend television…to a certain degree.

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Photo by Sebastien LE DEROUT on Unsplash