“I am convinced that there is no greater influence upon the family today than youth sports.” - Brad Griffin, Fuller Youth Institute. Go to any soccer field or baseball diamond on a Saturday morning, and that’s where your community is. It’s a norm—just about everyone has their kid involved in some kind of sports."
Week 1 (June 16): The Good - Today we’re going to start with the good—what good things are happening in kids and in families because of their participation in sports - physical activity, virtues of cooperation and teamwork, developing grit, parents connect, building friendships. One of the best things about sports is it provides a context in which we can be our kids’ cheerleaders.
Week 2 (June 23): The Bad - The real “bad” is when the cheering we talked about in Week One gets overdone. When the cheering tips into pressurizing our kids’ performance, and they think their entire self-worth depends on how they perform. So, how do we learn to affirm the worth and value of every kid, no matter if they win or lose, perform well or perform poorly? How do we understand that our worth and acceptance are guaranteed—that we are always loved.
Week 3 (June 30): The Ugly - “Fairness” is in the eye of the beholder, we are all more sensitive to slights and fouls when they’re committed against us, and less sensitive to the way our actions impact others. Studies show that refereeing has gotten objectively better. There is less racial bias, less home-court or home-field bias. More accuracy in calls. But you’d never know it. And who leads the charge? It’s the star players. The coaches. The ones who should be safe-guarding the game. Yet they’re the ones howling the most. Why? Because they’re the ones who feel entitled to the call. How do we treat others with civility, even when we think they’ve wronged us? Perhaps if we did those things, it’s not just sports, but all the world, that would be a little less “ugly.”
Week 4 (July 7): The Opportunity - Instead of worrying about families not being here on Sunday because of sports, how do we learn to embrace the opportunity they have to be a witness to the other kids/parents with whom their child does sports? Really, it is an opportunity, to consistently be in relationship with others who are outside our church, who may not be connected to any church at all. It’s a shift the whole church has to make in our mindset, to worry less about people not “coming” to us, but rather figuring out ways that we can “go” to others in love.