Talkin' with Trav: My Christmas wish

By Travis Hansen

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 14 2011 7:23 p.m. MST

Ryder Hansen

Travis Hansen, Deseret News

It is inspiring to see a high-profile athlete who believes in God, isn't ashamed of his faith, stands up for his religion, and excels on the field.

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow is not only the talk of Denver, but the trend on ESPN's SportsCenter, Twitter and a hot topic among sports and non-sports writers and broadcasters alike. He is making game-winning plays.

I find it interesting that many continue to poke fun at Tebow over his faith — that he practices what he believes, tries to live a chaste life and believes in God.

When did it become unpopular to be a sports star and have faith? Perhaps, because he doesn't shy away from mentioning his faith, he becomes a target for cynics and those who like to tear down that which is good. I don't know.

What I do know is my son and I love watching him play. And we love the fact he's a good, faithful guy.

What better time than now to bring in faith, with deed and behavior. So many star athletes fall to temptation, make mistakes, create ugly headlines and get in trouble.

It makes me think about what athletes should do in public life and whether they should feel responsible to fans to set a positive example.

I think if you make a lot of money throwing or catching a ball, you do have some responsibilities. I know because I'm a father.

This weekend at church, I listened to a leader speak to the youth about pornography. He did a wonderful job giving them words of wisdom and teaching them how to avoid temptations that are available on the Internet. I couldn't stop thinking about all the challenges that face our kids today.

I thought about the temptations I faced as a young boy — alcohol, drugs, cheating, lying and sex. But today, thanks to technology, our kids face nasty new challenges like pornography via the Internet and sexting.

The Internet has been a wonderful invention, allowing so many miracles to happen, but Satan again has taken something good and twisted it into something nasty, deceitful and destructive.

My Christmas wish this year is to find a way to protect my kids, who love sports and see stars as people to admire. Tebow is a great role model for my children, someone who stands up for what he believes in. Rick Pitino was quoted as saying, "All you atheists out there, watch Tim Tebow and you'll believe. He has to be getting help from a higher power."

Monday morning I woke up at 5:30 a.m. with a battle going on in my mind. How can I warn my kids about the challenges they face and will face? How can I protect them? Do I throw all the TV sets out, cut the Internet, move to the middle of Wyoming and live on a ranch the rest of our lives? Then as I searched the Internet on the topic of goals, I read an article by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf in the 2009 Liahona in which he said, "Write down each of your goals. Remember, a goal not written is only a wish."

That quote touched me and I thought I needed to talk to my oldest son and teach him about goals. I waited till he got back from school and we spoke about goals, and what we needed to do to achieve those goals. I asked him if he wanted to write them down because a goal is only a wish until it is written down. He politely declined and said, "Can I go play now?" I was hoping he actually listened and that maybe half of our conversation stuck into his mind.

The next morning came and I was in for a big, pleasant surprise.

My 8-year-old son Ryder loves football. He loves watching it, knows all the players' names, stats and pretends to be them tossing and catching his football to himself during the games. Monday morning he ran down the stairs to my office, gave me a piece of paper and ran off to eat his breakfast. He loves to give me his latest drawings or a breakdown of the standings in college football.

As I opened it, read it, and re-read it, I couldn't believe he had written a list titled, "What I will do and what I won't do." He wrote:

"I will get all A's.

I will be nice to my little brother and sister

I will do the dishes, take out the garbage, brush my teeth

I will flush the toilet after using it

I will practice basketball everyday for one hour

I will go on a mission

And I will get married in the temple."

I was grinning ear to ear as I read it and thought maybe he wasn't too young to start setting serious goals.

And then as I looked over at the "What I won't do" I started to get teary eyed.

He had wrote:

"I won't do drugs.

I won't drink alcohol.

I won't lie.

I won't cheat.

I won't be mean.

I won't be a bad example.

And I won't cry when BYU football loses a game."

A Christmas wish this season?

I had one.

Ryder just delivered.