We have been watching a lot of Olympics in our house lately. It is so neat to watch these incredible athletes, representing our country, doing what they have trained their whole lives for. My mind often goes to their childhoods. I imagine their parents pouring so much time, energy, and love into these children now turned heroes. I imagine the sacrifice it took for the entire families to get these people where they are today.
And I can't help but think about how all across our country parents are pouring their energy, and time, and money into training their children athletically. Whether it is skiing or figure skating or basketball or soccer... Often entire weekends are spent, families travel, church and family time are all put on hold in order for this young child to play their sport. It is almost so expected in our society. Especially if you have a boy... what sports are they in?
I don't know what the exact statistics are... I could make some up for you. But, we all know the truth. The chance of our children becoming professional athletes or Olympians is slim to none. Probably less than 1%. And yet, we spend, we push, we sacrifice- time, money, family... Because sports are important apparently. But, we have to know deep down that our children are not future Olympians and professional athletes.
What if instead we looked at what our sons will most likely become? I think chances are highest that our sons will become members of local churches, husbands, fathers, and employees (please, Lord!). Again, I don't know the statistics... but most people marry and have children. Probably more than 90% at some point in their life.
Instead of spending our days and weekend having family life revolve around our 7 year old and and his touch football schedule we invited our sons into our family life. We include them in the housework and the yard work. We encourage them to help their younger siblings build with blocks and have them help bake cookies for the neighbor. They sit and hand Dad tools as he fixes the car and helps him find the right page in his Bible at church. We teach them that they are a part of something big and important but not the center of it.
Do we have to banish sports? I don't think so. But, I think they aren't for everyone. They don't need to be the childhood standard. They aren't that important. And while there is a chance your son will be in the NFL it is so much more likely that he will be a dad to a wild two year old little boy someday... And I would rather have him trained and ready for the future that is likely and eternally significant.
I know that we rationalize hectic sports schedules with excuses like exercise and sportsmanship and teaching our children to be team players and have a strong work ethic. But, I firmly believe that all of those skills can be taught just as well, if not better, from within our own homes and families... the teams God himself gave us.
I love watching the Olympics and think that there are some wonderful professional athletes. But, I can only wonder what kind of generation of men we could raise up if we raised them up to be Godly husbands and fathers instead of athletes. What would our communities look like if servant leadership was more prized than a soccer trophy?