Go to any youth sporting event and you’ll see them screaming from the sidelines, fanatically invested parents pushing their kids to win — and yelling at them when they don’t. “This really hurts the kids. Sports should be fun,” says NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, who comes to the rescue in the new Veria Living television series Sports Dads, playing host and counselor to sports-obsessed families.
“These dads are living vicariously through their kids and putting too much pressure on them,” says Sanders, who has seen many pushy parents in his pro career and as a youth mentor. The father of five children, two from his first marriage, and three from his second, the demise of which made headlines last month — and was a topic off limits in this BET interview — Sanders admits to pushing his kids, but not in an overbearing way, “just to be the best and succeed in athletics or whatever they choose to do.” His eldest son, Deion Jr., is following in his gridiron footsteps, playing high school football.
Sanders, who played the outfield for four Major League Baseball teams and played several positions for five pro football franchises, winning Super Bowl rings with the 49ers and the Cowboys, is now an analyst for NFL TV and runs the Texas-based youth foundation Prime Time Association and Prime Prep Academy, both carrying on his sports nickname, Prime Time. “My whole life is about kids,” he says.
Sanders is currently developing other television projects, but has no plans to follow some of his sports star buddies into competition on Dancing With the Stars. “They’ve asked me,” he says, but blames old foot injuries for having to decline the offer. “My broken toes can’t take the pressure,” he explains.
Sports Dads premieres January 13 on Veria Living.
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