Gold Standards: Sports
While the ways to form affections are countless, choosing the right activities for our kids is one of the most obvious. This is why classical Christian schools do activities just a bit differently.
FORTITUDE WITH TEMPERANCE
Serving What You Love
Sports and balance. Many parents have difficulty making both of these happen.
The youth sports industry has grown by 55% in just the last eight years. Time magazine estimates sports is a 15.3 billion dollar industry, with travel teams and club sports on the rise. Sports injuries are on the rise as well, with 1.3 million kids suffering serious sports injuries according to USA Today, and those are just the ones who report it. As a parent raising up the next generation, how do you leverage everything sports has to offer without falling into the pitfalls? What’s the balance?
Ken Sugarman has been involved in sports for most of his life. He coached collegiate basketball for 15 years and is head basketball coach at a classical Christian school. Yet he describes this element of our culture as “sports gone mad.”
Why? One of the big reasons is scholarships. According to Davies Owens, BaseCamp Live host and parent of three kids, only 2% of students get a sports scholarship. And they often end up attending colleges they would not have chosen otherwise. Between apparel, training, travel, equipment, team fees, gas, and other incidental expenses, some estimates show that if parents put the same amount of money in the bank starting at the young ages kids begin organized sports, they could pay for many college tuitions in full.
If we are telling our kids we are doing all this so they can get a scholarship, what happens when they don’t? According to a Washington Post article, perhaps the most important underlying message is, “I have to be the best or I’ve failed.” It’s deeply harmful to kids.
Scholarships aside, we parents want our kids to succeed. And we don’t want to skimp when it comes to opportunities for our kids. But just because you would do anything for your kids doesn’t mean you should. The journal Family Relations reports, “The more money families pour into youth sports, the more pressure their kids feel, and the less enjoyment and commitment they have for the sport.” When parents are in the stands, the pressure goes up and the child’s performance dips. 70% of kids quit sports by age of 13.
Sugarman points out that since “you are going to be on a team of some sort for the rest of your life—with your wife, your family, your workplace, your church—being able to recognize and support the gifts of others and sacrifice yourself for them” are powerful life lessons. Sports can teach these lessons.
Kelly Barbour, another parent involved in sports at his local classical Christian school, points out, “You learn a lot of lessons, especially in the team sport world, about how to push yourself to be more disciplined in the way you live, to do things you don’t want to do, and to do things selflessly for other people.” Some of the best lessons are learned by playing pick-up games with neighbors and friends, a diminishing activity that needs to be brought back.
Barbour points out the best games of all. “If your kid asks you as a dad to go out and play in the yard—go play. Especially as dads, it may be outside of our comfort zone and we think it’s not a good use of time. But it is! … You as a parent are the best thing going for your kids.”
Sugarman’s advice to parents? Free your child to be coached, be a part of their team, and enjoy that process. … Help them understand that however well they perform is not their identity. … Join simple leagues, not those that travel around the country.