Okay, Okay. I know that it is Super Bowl Sunday, and you are not going to read this because you think that I am a woman that doesn’t like sports and that I am using this platform to get my two cents worth in.
Well, put on your football helmet and get defensive if you want, but I have something to say.
I am married to an ex-college football player who happens to have all brothers.
I have two brothers. And two sons. And three grandsons.
Guess what? Sports have always been a part of my life, and they continue to be. In the days when my four kids were young, we would have to “conquer and divide” because we had several games on the same day. We would take turns who went to whose game, and sometimes switch at half-time (if they were playing in the same place).
And we survived. (Barely.)
And you know what else? It was worth it. So many of the team sports that they played (my girls included), taught them discipline, hard work, teamwork, persistence and even relationship skills. They had some great coaches and some not.so.great, but even that taught them to respect authority–even when you didn’t feel like it, and even when you disagree. They learned that a little sweat and even a few tears brought great reward. Success on the field or on the court became more than just “look how good I am”, to “look at what we can accomplish when we work together.”
Can you say life skills?
Truth is, I wasn’t involved in team sports myself as a young girl. There were no year-round select teams back then, but we were always playing outside where I did shoot a few hoops and hit a few baseballs with my two brothers and the neighborhood kids. Life was simpler and Mom and Dad weren’t running us around every weekend or spending a ton of money so we could participate.
So here’s my point. Sports can be a really good thing. But they can’t be the main thing. Too often I see families sacrificing everything just so Johnny can play soccer. If life revolves around sports, pretty soon you get dizzy and can’t see things clearly.
We used to get frustrated because kids had practices at inconvenient times, but never–I mean never–did we ever even consider letting them miss church to play or to practice. Our culture has elevated sports to the point that so many other things can potentially get thrown out the window. Family dinnertime. Worship. Weekends at home. And just being a kid.
Don’t hate on me for saying it. I know there are a thousand excuses and reasons why parents make this choice. All in the name of success.
Only we’ve redefined the word.
When my children and grandchildren excel in a sport I am thrilled–and trust me, I am right there on the sidelines cheering them on. But success in sports will never be my main goal for them. My heart’s desire is that they will become godly men and women that love the Lord and are willing to serve Him wholeheartedly. I pray that their passion will be for more than a game, but to honor God on the playing field of their life.
It is possible to do both.
Surviving sports is more than just getting through a stage of life that is busy–it is keeping your focus on the things that really matter, and loving your children enough to prioritize their schedule. It is loving them through the good and bad–and validating those qualities that will help to shape them into an athlete that excels in the right things. Like honesty. Integrity. Compassion. Humility.
I have to admit I was not and am not a perfect parent. In hindsight, there are things I would do differently–but not this one. We love sports as much as the next person, and the way we thrive in them instead of just surviving them, is by keeping the right perspective. It IS just a game. (Don’t tell my son who is a coach and athletic director!) Wanting to win and doing your best is a given. Giving up things that are much more valuable just to accomplish it, isn’t an option. Disrespect and pride get benched, while sportsmanship and respect and discipline score big time.
These little athletes are learning lessons alright. And we’re the ones responsible for teaching them. They’re watching us as close as we’re watching that big game, which happens to be on a Sunday. Go figure.