Life Is Sport

Most of my blogging attempts here at ESI revolve around general comments and statements with a rhetorical question thrown in here and there. This time I truly just need your help! Our family has officially passed the threshold into the “Age of Activities”. Our calendar is coded with each of our child’s activities marked with their favorite color. I’m looking at the calendar now and each day looks like a really pretty rainbow. How did our days become so complicated? At what point does a summer of fun turn into a summer of endless obligations?

Just yesterday my wife had to get a babysitter to watch our youngest two children as she sat at the pool for five hours watching our oldest two swim in the summer’s first swim meet. I brought dinner to the pool and stayed long enough to catch the first two events and then I had to high tail it back to the house to pick up my four year old for his second T-ball game. And don’t get me started on T-ball. You want to talk about herding cats. The first game is just as cute as can be and then the rest are just downright painful! As a coach on my son’s team, my primary function has been to convince 15 kindergartners that first base is “that way” before the season is over.

I know I’m not alone in this as I see all of you doing it too as we exchange our daily pleasantries between shouts of “GO! GO! GO!”. As I’m a rookie in this Age of Activities, I must concede that I’m a little uncomfortable with the pervasive theme of all these activities revolving around sport. I’m a board member for Mid-Missouri Fellowship of Christian Athletes and even I begin to wonder if we are leaving something out of our summers by making sure every night filled with the crack of a bat, a road trip to an away game, one more lap at the pool, etc.

You can for sure trust I am a fan of sport. There are incredible life lessons, and biblical applications, that can be learned from sports when it’s done right. My concern is not regarding sport itself. I’m just concerned we aren’t doing “it” right. When I try to filter my own tendencies to emphasize sports in my children, I am convicted with how much I make “it” about them. When I compare that tendency with the truth of the gospel, I begin to realize how egocentric self confidence (the universally accepted benefit of sports) is diametrically opposed to the truth of the gospel.

In my own life, I have found I’m most in touch with the mercy and grace of God when I submit that it is in fact truly NOT about me. I’ve also noticed an interesting applicable phenomenon in my four children. There are so many differences in my kids that I sometimes wonder how they come from the same gene pool. One difference carries a very intriguing pattern. If you assess my kids from eldest to youngest, I think you will recognize a diminishing emphasis on self as you work your way down. And, no, I really don’t think we just became better parents with all our practice! I really think, by sheer necessity, our younger children recognize quickly that the world doesn’t revolve around them. They seem to adjust to the fact that they are more like a cog in the wheel instead of the axle.

So, here is my conflict. How do we, as parents, support a gospel driven attitude in sports? I think it goes beyond simply reminding them there is no “i” in team. We need to somehow realign sport as a means to foster humility. That may mean it is more important that they learn how to lose than it is to win. Maybe they need to learn that sport is a way they can serve others through encouragement. It seems to me character should be emphasized more than confidence. I don’t think I’ve got it figured out quite yet, but I know I will have plenty of time this summer at the pool and in the outfield to work on it.

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