Anyone can bet money. That's easy. It grows on trees. If you want to take a true risk, try emotional gambling. That can ruin your day, your month, or even your entire life. And chances are you’re already doing it without truly understanding the stakes.
The place most people dabble in this dangerous and potentially catastrophic practice is with sports, especially the ones played by their own kids. If you've ever bragged about your high school athletic accomplishments, including when you were still in high school, there's a good chance you've fallen into this trap. Why accomplish something meaningful in your life when you can relive past sports glory by recreating a miniature version of yourself? That's the easy part. If you're a dude, I mean that literally. There's nothing simpler than your 30 second contribution to the baby-making process. Things won't get complicated until your kid is actually old enough for sports. That age will vary by field. If you're seeking generational redemption at football, you might have to wait until your child is in third or fourth grade. If you want vindication at gymnastics, however, that starts at birth. If your offspring didn't tumble out of the womb and stick the landing, it's already too late for them to make the Olympic team. Better start over with another kid.
Once you've created your proto athlete, it's time to invest yourself. I don't mean in terms of time and effort. There are coaches and athletic specialists for that. If your son or daughter doesn't have their own personal sports psychologist, do you even want them to be the t-ball world champ? Then the real fun begins. To properly emotionally gamble, you need to stake your entire psychological well-being on the outcome of a contest where the referee or umpire might not even be keeping score. If your kid wins, you'll feel boundless joy. Note that I said your kid and not your kid's team. There is an "i" in team, and it stands for the inheritable genes your kid got from you. If your child loses, though, that's when you pay the real price. After blaming everyone other than yourself—only wins, not losses, are inheritable— the true cost of defeat will sink in. You'll feel depths of despair you didn't even know were possible. How could your kid's coach, teammates, the referee, and God himself allow this terrible fate to befall you, the person who wasn't even playing in the game? Somebody has to take the fall. Unless you can find an acceptable scapegoat, that person will be you and your entire emotional well-being.