MICHIGAN CITY — Brian Urlacher is one of the best linebackers to ever step foot on the gridiron, but football wasn't always the former Bears great's favorite sport growing up in New Mexico.
"When I was a kid, I liked basketball more than football," Urlacher said during Thursday's appearance at the new FanDuel SportsBook in Blue Chip Casino. "I didn't know I was going to be good at football until I got older."
It's become prevalent in society today for parents to groom their children to excel at one sport and one sport only at a young age. Whether they do so to force a certain sport upon their kid or they see them having a natural gift, specializing children in a single sport is more common than ever.
Whether it stems from parents wanting to live vicariously through their kid's success, hoping for a potential professional career to come about or simply wanting what they think is best for their child, the Chicago Hall of Fame linebacker doesn't believe it accomplishes any of those goals.
"You don't know what you're going to be good at if you don't try a bunch of different sports out," said Urlacher, who also developed an interest in track and field and later table tennis. "Parents all think their kids are going to go pro in a certain sport, so they try to specialize them in that sport. The reality is, not a lot of kids go pro. It's very hard to make it as a professional athlete. So I think it's good to just let them have fun."
Sports are more than just an avenue to compete and stay in shape, too. They're important for one's social development, forcing kids to create meaningful relationships with strangers. Now an avid golfer and mountain biker, Urlacher experienced those benefits growing up and carries on those same principles to his children through sports.
"Playing a variety of sports just makes you a more well-rounded athlete and person," said Urlacher. "I let my kids do whatever they want to do. If they want to play football, basketball, I don't care. Let them do it all. Let them have fun."