"Honey," I whisper when the soccer game restarts, "You've got to calm down." I don't dare say, It's just a game.
"I guess this may not be helping my witness for Christ," my husband admits sheepishly.
This was the YMCA soccer field, the league where everybody plays. It was not professional sports. But my husband and son love sports, taking it very seriously. Every morning, my dear husband reads the Bible devotedly and the sports section religiously.
Two of our girls played soccer occasionally, but my daughters loved to dance. They took ballet, tap, and jazz lessons. We attended more ballet recitals than I can count--to my great joy!
Along with our first boy, came the NEED for team sports. Now, boys aren't the only ones! Our dear friend, Phoebe, loves soccer and basketball. She NEEDS to play team sports. All of our three younger children played soccer and basketball with the YMCA. Jimmy played football too.
Benefits of Team Sports
Why are team sports so great for children? Playing sports requires discipline, skill, and practice to excel. There are so many life lessons to learn on a soccer field or baseball diamond. Teamwork is required to win. The best teams are the ones that learn to work together to get a goal or touchdown. Passing the ball and getting the rebound requires players to think beyond themselves to the others they are playing with.
There are just so many spiritual applications to playing on a sports team. We have a goal (fulfilling the Great Commission) and we have an enemy (Satan). Only as we work together (prayer, Bible study, spiritual warfare), do we defeat the opposition and WIN! I have used so many examples from the soccer field, baseball diamond, or basketball court to illustrate Biblical principles. (Oops...I heading off on a tangent here!)
Not only is there spiritual application and training, but team sports provides exercise that is fun! Children have a blast with their team mates, even if they lose the game. They are running, kicking, throwing, and jumping! Regular exercise (practice and games!) keeps their little hearts healthy! Without realizing it, they are getting in shape and your children just think they're having fun! In the Florida heat, we have to be careful to keep our children hydrated.
Building relationships with team mates comes naturally because everyone is working together toward a common goal. There is no awkwardness or stilted conversations. A good play or a bad call makes for something to talk about! Children learn to be kind to those who aren't quite as good, to lose gracefully, and to encourage new friends as they get better during the season. One thing I appreciate about my old son, Jimmy, is that he is quick to tell people in the game when they do a good job. And one of my favorite moments was after Jimmy had plowed over another boy in his pursuit of a touchdown, he ran back as soon as the whistle ended the play to help the fallen boy up! No, my son isn't gentle, but he is kind.
Where to Play Team Sports
Private schools offer another opportunity for team sports participation. Many are thrilled to have homeschoolers participate. Children can also play sports in the public schools. Many of our friends have played football, baseball, and softball with various high schools in our area.
Choosing a Lifetime Sport
We can't do everything and your child certainly doesn't need to play every season. But as you are able, expose your children to different sports. Don't forget tennis, volleyball, golf, and swimming. Your child may not be a natural athlete, but will probably gravitate to at least one sport. Use this as an opportunity to help him choose a life sport. A life sport will enable your child to stay in shape and have fun at the same time...for the rest of her life!
Lots of really old men (my age...smile!) play basketball. You don't have to be a doctor or rich business man to golf, though it helps to pay the green fees. Tennis courts are filled with the not-so-young. So, talk to your child about this idea of choosing one or two sports that will be their form of recreation. If the sport is learned, practiced, and played well, it will be a blessing for years to come.
Play Team Sports as a Family
At Zack's eighteenth birthday party, he wanted everyone to play soccer. There were moms, dads, singles, teens, and young children out on the field having a blast. They had so much fun, in fact, that they have been playing almost every Sunday afternoon since. (3 years ago). Yes, you have to be careful of the younger children, but there were plenty of opportunities to show skill and prowess on the field. Everybody had fun! And they were getting a workout at the same time.
Most homeschooling families are big enough to be a basketball team. Just invite another homeschooling family over and "take them on" out on the court. You will be surprised how much fun everyone has! Don't wait until children are big enough. As soon as they can kick a ball, have a family kickball game in the backyard. Play softball together, even if you have to let Dad be the permanent pitcher.
Let me know if any of you enjoy team sports as a family! I bet some of you have some funny stories to tell.
Go Team Go!
Merey (Meredith Ludwig Curtis)