This Post originally appeared in our Bulletin on June 1, 2014 and more recently on March 15, 2015. Since many families struggle to strike a balance between Sports and faith (and everything else) we thought it would be helpful to post these thoughts here. It is not intended to be a comprehensive evaluation of the subject, but merely some thoughts to help families discern how to spend their time.
Youth Sports are all the rage in Longview right now, and everywhere else it seems. I played select soccer when I was growing up and enjoyed it thoroughly. Sports have a way of teaching us valuable life lessons that we can’t learn as quickly in other endeavors. While I’m grateful for the experiences I had playing soccer, I often find myself looking back and asking myself if it was really worth it. The answer is a rousing, “I don’t know.” I really don’t know if all the time and money my family invested in soccer was worth it. Yes, it taught me and my brother important life lessons, but it also pulled my family apart one day a week, which I regret.
Furthermore, I’m convinced that families nowadays work harder on the weekends trying to participate in activities than they do during the week. That isn’t healthy for individuals, marriages, or for families as a whole, and if it isn’t healthy for families it isn’t healthy for society. Human beings need rest in order to flourish, and I’m not sure a lot of people actually get enough of it. Rest helps us to focus on our relationship with our family, our relationship with God, and it helps us to set our priorities. It’s with that in mind that I offer the following thoughts on youth sports.
I really hate to break it to you, but unless your kid is an athletic freak of nature, your kid isn’t going to go pro. Don’t get me wrong here. Few things would make me more proud than seeing a kid from St. Rose or St. Catherine’s rise to athletic fame. I’d love to be able to say, “I knew that kid way back when…” but that isn’t likely to happen. Maybe, maybe, your kid will get to play in college with above average talent, but that is also very unlikely. This is important to remember because it will keep us from seeing sports as a means to an end. Kids should play sports for the benefits they receive directly such as good health, friendship, and teamwork. They shouldn’t participate to seek some other goal like money, fame, or free education. Now ask yourself, does your child need to be part of an elite team to receive these direct benefits?
But if you are involved in elite sports don’t miss out on a golden opportunity to teach them good priorities. If you travel with your kid to play sports, you have an incredible opportunity to teach them about the importance of keeping God in their life. During away games, find a Catholic Church nearby and do your best to attend Mass on the road. Or hurry home so you can attend Spanish Mass at 6pm at St. Rose. Doing this will reinforce the importance of our faith. With a little extra effort, sports and faith can go together beautifully.
My parents will laugh when they read this, but I think it’s important. Make sure your kids pay a portion of their fees for these teams. Give them an allowance and tell them that if they want to play on the team, they need to pay a significant portion. Make sure it’s enough for them to feel like they are making a sacrifice. This will help you discern whether or not your kid’s heart is really in it and if it’s really worth it for them. If they aren’t willing to make a sacrifice to participate, you shouldn’t either.