Why We Play Sports

Sports1 We have friends who think we're crazy. They don't understand why we spend four nights a week at a sports practice. They don't understand why we're willing to give up most of our weekends to go to soccer and hockey games. They don't understand why we sacrifice downtime to let our kids play competitive sports. Sometimes I wonder if we're crazy, too.

Then moments like Saturday happen when I watched my younger daughter step on the ice not to play a game but to teach others how to play the game. I watched this child who five years ago couldn't stand up on the ice take the arm of another little girl and escort her across the ice for her first taste of hockey.

Or there are soccer seasons like this one where I've watched my older daughter go from being a kid who had lost her confidence both on the field and off of it to becoming a still quiet, but confident, young woman -- all because a coach told her he believed in her.

It's these moments that make it all worthwhile -- all the driving, all the schedule juggling, all the freezing cold hockey rinks, all the rainy soccer games. It's the building of character and the teachable moments that keep us on the field and on the ice.

You see, I can teach my kids without sports. I can teach them how to win and how to lose well in life without them ever stepping onto a soccer field or a sheet of ice. I can teach them to honor God, be kind to others, and respect those around them without them ever scoring a goal or defending a pass.

But, for our family, sports gives us a place to test those lessons out. It creates an incubator for learning to follow God even under pressure. It gives my kids an opportunity to truly be a picture of Jesus even in the midst of a tense moment. It gives them opportunities to put all those lessons into practice.

Plus my kids love to play. They are passionate about their sports. They would rather play their sport than do just about anything else. We rarely have whining or complaining about heading to practice or games. And if God gave them a passion for it, then we want to give them the opportunity to pursue it.

Not every kid loves to play sports. Not every kid even likes sports. I'm not saying that every kid should play. What I am saying today is that every kid should have the opportunity to pursue their passions. Every kid should have a place where they can test out the lessons you're teaching them at home. Every kid should have an opportunity to perform under pressure. Whether that's on the sports field, on the stage, in the artist's studio, on the dance floor, or at a scouting event, we need to make sure our kids have an opportunity to pursue their passions and practice what we're teaching them.

Because what good is a passion if you can't do anything with it? What good is knowing Jesus if you can't share Him with others? What good is building character if there's never a chance to test it?

Our kids can only learn so many lessons in our homes. They can only practice so many behaviors. They can only follow God so far. We have to give them the chance to step into a situation that might be a little tense, a little frustrating, a little overwhelming for them to practice all that they have learned in our homes.

Because it's in those situations that character is built. It's in those situations where they can see God at work. It's in those situations where they can learn to make good choices. It's in those situations where they can truly decide where their passions lie.

And that's why we play sports. It's not the goals. It's not the wins. It's not the talent. It's not the competition. We play sports because my girls have a passion for them, and it gives them an opportunity to practice what they have learned at home.

What opportunities are you giving your kids to fulfill their passions and practice what they are learning at home?