Georgia coach Kirby Smart talked about a lot of hot topics in his lengthy opening statement at SEC Football Media Days. Before he touched on COVID, name, image and likeness and the community service group formed by his players – Dawgs For Pups – he talked about his own children.
He talked about 13-year-old twins Weston and Julia and 9-year-old Andrew. He talked about spending “a lot of time” with them over the last month. He talked about the joy of being a sports dad.
“I have three kids that all play different sports,” Smart said. “So I get to spend time with my daughter, Julia, at AAU basketball. We travel all over and get to watch her play. Then I get to watch my son Weston play tennis, and I spent four nights recently in Rome (Ga.) with some rainouts watching USTA tennis. Then my son Andrew plays baseball, and we get to go around and travel with him.”
Think about that message for a moment. One of the premier college football coaches in the country has three children that play basketball, baseball and tennis. Smart understands that kids benefit in many ways from playing sports – and that they play is more important than what they play.
“Quick story,” Smart said. “When we go to Augusta (Ga.) for five straight days of All-Star baseball, five days of one-game-a-day baseball, I take my other two, Julia and Weston, to a restaurant. We get to eat there at a fancy little hamburger place in Augusta. Several people come over and want autographs. I held a baby, took a picture, did several autographs with young men.
“And I had an elderly lady come over to our table and say, ‘You must be somebody famous.’ I said, ‘No, ma’am, I certainly don’t think so.’ She said, ‘Are you a professional golfer?’ I said, ‘No, ma’am, I’m not.’ Then she said, ‘Are you a NASCAR driver?’ I said, ‘No, ma’am, I’m not.’
“By now, my kids are kind of giggling, and the last one she said, ‘Are you a track star?’ And my daughter almost spit out her food and just thought it was hilarious. At this point, I said, ‘No, ma’am, I coach football at the University of Georgia.’
“I always say humility is a week away so it was pretty humbling to have the elderly lady accuse me of being a NASCAR driver, a golfer and also a track star, which couldn’t be anything further from the truth.
“But I got to spend a lot of time with my kids. That’s what it’s all about to me, being with those children, being able to watch them play their sports. That’s my passion. That’s what I do in my free time when I’m not getting to recruit. It’s big I got to do that. It’s also important that our players see us, as coaches, as real men and fathers.”
On that youth baseball trip, on every occasion when Smart spends time watching his kids play, he’s not the head coach at one of the best football programs in the country. He’s someone so many of us recognize every weekend in places like Rome and Augusta, Ga., as one of the most important people in the sports world.
He’s a sports dad.
— Kevin Scarbinsky