Ahead of Father’s Day on September 2nd, Lululemon spoke with Western Bulldogs champion and commentator Luke Darcy about parenting, his role as an AFL broadcaster and what he wants his lasting legacy to be.
Dusty Allen: What would you say your core values are (e.g. fun, adventure, honesty)? How do they filter through to your parenting?
Luke Darcy: I’m loyal to people close to me and am authentic to the person I am. Integrity springs to mind – if you’re in that space, as a father and partner, and you bring that to most of your conversations you tend to be OK in life. We all make mistakes and we all have our shortcomings. I’m generally pretty fair and kind and make an effort to get on with people. If you’re kind and compassionate, life tends to go OK for you. If you turn up with that mindset, you generally enjoy the relationships you encounter.
What would you like your legacy to be?
Big question. More than anything I’d like to be remembered as a really good Dad. It’s something I think about wanting to be better at than anything in my life. It’s the most enjoyable and most rewarding and by far the most challenging. Often you’re not quite 100% sure whether you’re doing a good job minute by minute. It’s so complex. I think about it every day. Bec (Luke’s wife) and I talk 10 times a day about decisions, opportunities and trying to be good parents. I think that if you’re remembered as a great Dad, that’s as good a legacy as you could ever have.
Is there anyone that you go to for advice on fatherly things?
I wouldn’t say I go to my Dad for advice, but I think about him all the time. He’s well and still with us and I think if I could probably have the impact he had on me with my own kids, and continues to have. He’s full of those qualities and I’d describe him as the least over the top parent that I think I’ve ever met. He had lot’s of stuff he could have passed on, but he doesn’t overburden you with his thoughts, but he’s always there, always asking questions and interested in you, but never judgmental on anything you do. I’m probably scarily like him in many ways, drafted father-son, commentated football, etc. It’s amazing how similar our lives have been so far.
Has he given you any tips on your broadcasting?
He’s pretty unique in that he watches, he listens. He went to so many of my games. I know that he’s tuning in all the time, I think that’s the thing that I’ve taken away from him. I know that he’s there, I know he’s got really strong thoughts, but unless I ask him for them he doesn’t overstep the mark. He just likes me to know that he’s always there and doesn’t need to impart his knowledge all the time and I probably take that to the kids as well. When it comes to their sport there is the temptation to say something and potentially go too far. But I think if you’re there and they know that you support them and know that you love them I think that’s about as good as you can be sometimes.
How do you think your kids would describe you?
Annoying and frustrating, depending on what day it is (laughs). But I hope they see there is a constant amount of love that’s there. I always feel that part of your role as a parent is not to be their friends. I love this great line that a friend shared with me, “The richest inheritance that you can leave your kids is a life of love, stability and boundaries”. I think about that a lot. Love has got to be full on, stability is important, but boundaries are something that Bec and I talk about all the time. As a parent you’re always the one that’s setting boundaries and that comes with butting heads sometimes, but I look back and think that hopefully, it was done with their best interests and fairness in mind. As a parent, the easy part is saying yes, the hardest part is saying no. But I suppose you try and set that line for them and it gives them the ability to work within the constraints of what is going to be good for them. I find that the most challenging part. Without it, it’s a bit of a free for all and chaos, so it’s not the easiest part of parenting but probably the most important.
What lessons did you learn during your playing career that you would pass along to your kids?
Football and team sports in general are underrated in it teaches you great discipline. I think it teaches you about giving more than just for yourself, giving to the greater good, wanting to be a good teammate and wanting to support your friends is a great quality that comes out of team sport. You become really open to feedback, you crave feedback and get it every moment of your life as a team player and in the world of footy you just get so used to it. There is a resilience that comes with that and that is really beneficial in life. You seek to become a self-improver and I think that’s helped put me in good stead and for a lot of my mates, I think that’s a constant.
Do you see any of that in your children now?
Yeah I think organically, when I watch them. Rebecca is pretty disciplined with her routine and with her health, yoga, fitness, healthy eating and lifestyle. She’s an incredible example to them. You probably see in our house, the care for the kids’ health and well-being. The kids are probably all self-starters and motivated, not by anything we say, they probably just see it. I think that’s the most powerful thing you can do. They all love their own sports. We’ve got four lives that are continually pursuing their loves and passions (with sports) and we’re pretty lucky that they are all healthy and all pretty passionate about what they do
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Make sure you have plenty of laughs and don’t take yourself too seriously. I probably did in the early days. I was pretty focused and desperate to achieve a number of things. If I was to go back I’d love to pause and stop and enjoy all of the great times. I’ve been really lucky. I dreamed of being an AFL player and when I was an AFL player I dreamed of calling the games. Right from the start I knew I wanted to work in footy media and wanted to call games. I used to call the games in my head when I was playing. It used to drive me insane. I used to call myself moving out on the ground, “Darcy gets to centre half-forward” (laughs). To be able to know you wanted to do something and then be able to do it I feel genuinely lucky. But if I go back, maybe it would be to take a little bit of time to just stop and be thankful for how lucky you are to have done what you wanted to do.
What is the biggest misconception about being a father?
Great question. I think I had a preconceived idea that it was pretty easy. I think it’s incredibly challenging. I didn’t overthink becoming a Dad. We had four kids and all of a sudden you have this responsibility for four lives. You want to make sure you’re as good a support for them as you can possibly be. I didn’t have any understanding of just how complex that is, how much emotion that triggers in you on a daily basis. I think a lot of parents talk say, “Oh it’s fantastic and it’s brilliant” and it’s all of those things. But I wouldn’t underestimate it. I find it incredibly challenging to be good at it.
Since becoming a Father, how do you think you’ve changed
Hopefully I’ve got a lot more empathy, I think I’ve learned to be lot more accepting and you just have to be like that, particularly being a father of a daughter. The boys are a different beast all together. Having a 14-year-old daughter and having conversations with her, you’ve just got to be a good listener and be right on, otherwise you get pretty good feedback. That’s awesome because that teaches me a softer side, to slow down and that I just can’t set your own goals and push ahead and do all the things that I used to do. It’s brought out a much better side in me, for sure.
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