Here comes a statement that will get many people fired up: Sports won’t save your children. I can already hear the comebacks. “Do you know how much kids learn from sports?” “Do you know how much less trouble kids get into when they play sports?” “Without sports, I would not be the person I am today?” Take a deep breath and keep reading for a second before you blow a gasket defending your golden calf. If you know me, you know that I enjoy sports. I still play sports. I help coach sports. Yet none of that reality changes my original statement that sports will not save your children and to be clear sports won’t save you either.
To any parents who are reading this, I would like you to answer a question for me. What do you want for your children’s future? What is it that you hope that they have in the future? In answering this question you will begin to understand some of your own views on what is important in life. Do you want your child to be successful? If so, what does success look like? Do you want your child to have a good job? Do you want your child to marry a nice spouse and have a nice family with 1 and a half kids? Do you want your child to be an upstanding citizen or at least not end up in jail? If these are the things that you want for your child it may be true that participating in sports as kids and into high school may perhaps help them develop a work ethic that could get them some of the things that were listed above. Sports may help them make friends. Sports may keep them out of trouble although I believe this to be a bit of a myth as being a successful athlete even at the high school level may actually provide more access to trouble. What our culture has taught kids about good athletes is that they should be worshiped and the rules don’t apply to them so sports may keep them from experiencing consequences, but is that really a good thing?
The original statement still stands: Sports won’t save your children! If your response is well it will teach them how to be a good person perhaps we have struck at the real issue. Is your hope for your child that they are simply a good person with ok morals according to the current culture that they are a part of? If that is the goal sports may help with that, but as a pastor, I must say that goal misses the mark for what any Christian parent should be hoping for.
As a father, I can tell you what I pray for on a regular basis for my kids and that is that they have a living and active faith in their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ all the days of their lives. As a former minor league baseball player with a son, I honestly don’t care if he plays one inning of baseball in his life. I don’t care if he ever picks up a baseball, basketball, football, or any other type of ball. I have seen positives that come out of people participating in athletics, but to be honest, I have seen more bad than good. I have seen people navigate the sports fields and courts all the while keeping their eyes fixed on what they should be on, their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I don’t see that as a normal thing. I see it as the exception to the rule, and even that exception to the rule often times ends up being some strange intermingling of athletics and God.
Sports have become a golden calf of American society. Sports are where so many look to for joy in their lives. Sports are where parents look to for their children to be provided for in many ways ranging from life lessons to a college scholarship. People have more allegiance to a sports team than they do to a church. Where we have come to is truly sad and as I write this I am truly concerned about this reality.
The truth of the matter is sports will not save your children only Jesus can. As parents, we need to be as concerned with getting ourselves along with our kids to church to hear God’s word as we are with getting our kids to practice. Would you be more embarrassed to miss a game or church? Are you more worried about how your favorite NFL team is doing or about receiving the body and blood of Christ for the forgiveness of your sins? If these words make you mad the question is why? When our idols are attacked we tend to get very defensive. Luke 16:13 (ESV) 13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Just cross out money and put in sports. A master is a master whether it is green and flat or white and round. Let us repent and turn again to the only place that we have hope, Jesus!
There have been times in my own life where my view of sports was not healthy, but I am truly grateful that my perspective was changed by the wonderful good news of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus has died and rose from the dead for you and your children! My hope is simply Jesus’s hope that you and your kids would trust in him. 1 Timothy 2:3–6 (ESV) 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
Sports can’t save your child (or you) only Jesus can! Where will our focus be?
Fantastic Pastor Lane! Thank you so much for writing this!