Sports have begun to dominate the lives of our children and our families in ways that are not only dangerous; they may border on being idolatrous. On an almost weekly basis, I see parents and children making decisions and planning schedules based on their commitment to sports– practices, games, etc. I am saddened at what many of these children are missing; I am concerned about what these children are learning about what is really important.
Don’t get me wrong. I am a huge sports enthusiast. Just ask my wife! I play sports; I watch sports; I am a good example of why “fan” is short for “fanatic.” I understand what it means to be part of a team, and have long argued that participation in sports helps children learn the importance of commitment. However, a commitment to sports must be balanced among other commitments. The growing demands of sports organizations make such balance difficult–especially for Christian families.
This summer, children in my church will miss Vacation Bible School and summer camp due to sports. They will miss a multiple-day event that has the potential to have tremendous impact on their spiritual lives for one or two hours of sports (i.e. Johnny can’t go to camp; he has a game on Tuesday). This fall, children in my church will miss our weekend fall retreat because of a Saturday football or soccer game–not a championship game or a special game–just a regular game, one among many.
Be careful about the decisions you make regarding your child’s participation in sports and the message it sends to your child about priorities–yours as much as his or hers. I’m not saying kids and families should never miss a church activity for a sporting event (although I am concerned about the extent to which kids sports have begun to schedule on Sundays). I’m just saying that sports should not be an automatic trump card. When it is, you may be sending a message to your kids that you will later regret.