Like many readers of this blog, I spent Monday night riveted to the television watching the Auburn-Florida State national championship football game. It was a great game between two great teams. Certainly, big-time college sports is greatly influenced by money, and there are many who fail to keep it in the proper perspective. It’s easy to forget that the overwhelming majority of those who play team sports never appear on television or have any sort of fame or fortune. They play in little league, middle school, or high school on their respective teams. Unfortunately, all of us are familiar with the stories of those who have trouble keeping sports in the proper perspective even in those younger ages. Sports are NOT the most important things in life, and sports should never become the foremost priorities for any of us. I fully recognize that, in today’s world, it is more difficult to keep a proper balance for lots of reasons. Nevertheless, I still believe that team sports are overall a good and positive thing to be involved with. My sons are involved in sports and I encourage it, in spite of the tensions and pitfalls involved. Please let me share a few reasons…
(1) Sports teach the value of hard work and dedication. Every sport requires years of training and practice to really excel or even be “good.” The earlier our kids learn the value of consistent hard work over time, the better off they will be.
(2) Sports provide an antidote to selfishness. Let’s face it, we live in a self-absorbed culture. Everything is more and more about “me.” Sports provide great opportunities to learn the value of teamwork. When you are on a team, others are depending on you and you are depending on others. It’s not all about you. That’s a great lesson to learn in life.
(3) Sports teach mental toughness and resilience. No one wins all the time. No one plays well every single game. You win. You lose. You have great games, and you have games where it feels like you can’t do anything right. Sports teaches a player to keep going through adversity and to never take the good times for granted. A set back isn’t the end of the world. Put the past out of your mind and play the next play. Again, those are great life lessons that will go with our kids for a lifetime.
(4) Sports provide an opportunity for Christian influence. All of us know of the positive influence that Tim Tebow has had, but there are thousands of other deeply committed Christians involved in team sports all over America. They just don’t make the news. Just this week, I had the opportunity to meet a man who is a long-time, very successful Alabama high school football coach. “The Lord called me to be a coach,” he told me. He views his role as a coach as a ministry the Lord has called him to and he has positively influenced hundreds of young men over the years.
Personally, I am thankful for the impact that playing team sports had on me growing up, and I am thankful that my boys are playing too!