Sports in the Family – Rewarding or Consuming?

Last summer’s Olympics were a magnificent spectacle. When I watch these events, I get caught up in the competition and national pride. I admire the participants and I likely break the commandment that has something to do with coveting the fine abs, superior strength, and lightning speed of elite athletes.

Winner looser. Black and white photo of a kick boxer, taken at an event in The Netherlands. The rederee decides who the winner is.

One of my most rewarding memories will always be winning a provincial hockey championship two years ago as co-coach of my daughter’s team and her scoring the winning goal.

I’m pleased that my son also plays hockey and that he has considerable enthusiasm for tennis. Taking athletics a step further, as a family of four, daily summer bike rides have always held a special place, with my wife acting as captain of that team.

On the negative side, however, here is a clear observation – an unfathomably disproportionate amount of time, money and energy is given to sports and fitness…from the armchair quarterback, to the weekend striker, to the amateur triathletes, to the burned out chauffeurs who sideline as parents.

I am guilty as charged in this assessment. I’ve done it all…played, trained, and coached extensively, watched religiously, and paid handsomely (for tickets, child registrations, etc.).

I have the pleasure of comparing the aches and pains of sports injuries with other same-aged men.

The obsession with sports exemplifies part of a present fog of deception and delusion that hazes across North America. The fascination with sports and fitness, shows that 1 Timothy 4:7,8 is a forgotten admonition, or at least a very low priority:

…train yourself to be godly.For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

Sorry sports fans and fitness fanatics, again including myself; our fascination with sports and fitness is often idolatry. It’s more subtle than the big-ticket addictions or seductive temptations.

It’s the kind that sneaks up and steals our joy, time, and effective witness. Sure, it can be a positive distraction from stressful lives and issues, and provide physical benefit, but are the harmful effects more alarming?

Sports are a wonderful way to connect with other families. Many Christians enter coaching with the goal of influencing kids and helping to grow their character. So it can be a wonderful witness.

The caution here is to keep your faith the priority. It is so easy to get ultra competitive, overvalue winning, and even speak or behave inappropriately during emotional outbursts as coach or parent. We have all seen it and cringed.

I would warn that the greater danger is the over-commitment of time. Yes, families can watch football or play a round of golf together, but if they don’t participate as a unit, the time goes up in smoke, dedicated neither to family nor God.

Families often travel in different directions to accommodate their kids’ sports schedules. What begins as a recreational pursuit becomes a full-time commitment, often accompanied with moaning and groaning.

Amidst lugging sports gear from arena to arena, week after week, year after year, suddenly one day it all ends, and you realize you should’ve been savoring those countless moments. The wins. The losses. The joys. The sorrows. The time you spent with your kid.

Hours and minutes are likely the ultimate test. Does the amount of time you spend watching sports or physically training surpass the amount of time you spend in the spiritual disciplines, such as Bible reading, prayer, and fellowship with other believers? If so, then you are likely failing in your priorities.

Picture of a woman in a hammock, studying for her education. She's holding up a pencil.

The tithing principle of giving beyond 10% of all you have to the Lord comes into play here. That includes money, time, and energy.

As a highly active sports family, I want to encourage you to keep it fun, stay active together, and keep the viewing of professional and college sports to a healthy level.

May sports and fitness be another avenue for you to bring glory to God. As the movie, Chariots of Fire made Eric Liddell’s quote famous: “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast! And when I run I feel his pleasure.” Liddell understood the source of his strength.

Clouds & blue sky

1 Philippians 3:13, 14  I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. (NLT)

 

We pray Sports in the Family – Rewarding or Consuming? has blessed you. How do you manage your family’s time while enjoying activities and interests?

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