‘Tis the season for year-end reflection and refocus for the new year ahead. If you’re like most, though well-intentioned, you’re likely more consumed with the daily grind (i.e. holiday travel, AAU practice, play recital, etc.) than you are with recognizing the incredible opportunity that lies in front of you.
"I want to help redeem the culture of youth sports!"
As I look back on the year, I’m reminded that one of my greatest responsibilities as a parent is helping my little guy “win” in life. However, defining exactly what “winning” looks like can be a bit blurry in the light of everyday living.
Fortunately, sports provide great teachable moments to help unpack this principle:
The Value of Sports (James 4:6)
Pointedly, the value of sports help facilitates life lessons. With the proper spirit, sports can show the distinct difference between “winning” and striving for excellence. More importantly, sports can teach us how to successfully handle failure. Choosing rather to view it as a temporary setback that forces improvement, the developed resolve teaches us to get back up and try again when life knocks us down.
“Winning” is More than the Scoreboard (Galatians 6:4)
It’s been said that our response to winning and losing reveals our character. Whether on or off the field of competition, you can still “win” in life even in those moments you may take a loss on the scoreboard. Alternatively, when the scoreboard shows results in your favor, you can learn to win gracefully and enjoy the victory without needing to demean your opponents in the process.
No “I” in TEAM (1 Corinthians 12:15-26)
Two values team sports models are the necessity for community and the importance of accountability. When a team works together as a group with a common goal — with all pieces precisely fitting together like a puzzle — everyone must positionally do their very best in order for the team to operate at its optimal potential. Though cliche, a great acronym for TEAM is: Together Everyone Accomplishes More.
Goal Setting (Proverbs 19:21)
Organized athletics lend themselves toward team and individual goal setting — both short and long term in nature. Goals can help us map out a plan of action throughout all parts of life, and they equally shed light on the areas in which greater practice, preparation, and perseverance are necessary. It is imperative to note, however, that when planning, “our” plans must first be within the parameters of God’s Will and Word before any chance of success exists.
Character Building (Philippians 3:13-14; Jeremiah 17:7)
Sports offer a great backdrop for cultivating character by providing a platform for participants to maximize their performance and achieve their greatest potential in areas such as, discipline, humility, determination and hard work.
For the young athlete, the lens through which they view sports participation and the values it offers serves as a launching pad for the way they see themselves. For parents, proactive, thoughtful, deliberate mentoring in sports and life is critical for providing fulfilling and enjoyable sports experiences that help our youngsters mature into well-respected, God-fearing, healthy adults who are value driven and “win” in all of life.