“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”
– Ecclesiastes 3:1 (ESV)
I loved playing sports as a kid. My journey began with Little League baseball and continued with the opportunity to play football and baseball in high school. The positive experiences from this time helped shape my love for sports as well as my decision to pursue a career in teaching and coaching. I learned how to work hard, be part of a team, be accountable, develop patience, deal with failure and disappointment and along the way I developed life-long friendships with my teammates and coaches. As I grow older, I often wonder how my life might have been different without these experiences. I’m very grateful. Now in my 70’s with a strong desire to keep coaching, I also often wonder why more kids aren’t playing today.
Research tells us that there are many answers to this question. Kids are quitting too soon. Kids are often pushed to specialize in a single sport. It’s very expensive for parents. Too much stress and not enough fun. This is simply a start to the conversation. The elephant in the room that needs to be addressed is the unhealthy emphasis on winning. Too often winning and losing are the only goal or metric of success coaches and parents see. Winning doesn’t tell you how well you played. Sometimes you play or perform well but the opponent is better. Sometimes you play well but lose due to circumstances you don’t control. Winning is important, but it doesn’t always measure a player or teams performance and development. When we measure the child’s individual progress, effort and individual performance, they have fun. Experts tell us that this is one reason kids love video games. They get immediate feedback with indicators to know what they need to do to improve. Failure and losing often make us stronger. They teach us perseverance and are often the springboard to achieve in ways we never imagined. When Scripture says that for everything there is a season, it means that the circumstances we go through in life are not by accident. They are orchestrated or allowed by God with great intentionality and purpose.
Heavenly Father, use me as an instrument to teach the positive aspects of sports. Help me to communicate openly with players, parents and coaches. Help me to see the wins in the locker room, in the classroom and at home as well as on the scoreboard. In Jesus name, Amen.