This Easter Sunday, thousands will attend church who rarely go to church. For those who call themselves Christians, this holiday still holds some significance, even though in everyday life few of these people practice Christianity.
But even attendance on Easter and Christmas is dwindling, as we move further and further away from Judeo-Christian values. Many things have been used to accomplish this cataclysmic shift in culture. And one of those things is sports. Yep, I said it. It is sports.
Last Saturday, I found myself in a huge sports complex for a trade show. As I walked through the building, I saw thousands of kids and adults worshiping the almighty “ball”– The Basketball. The Softball. The Soccer Ball. The Baseball. The Football.
Many years ago, when I was a kid, sports was just a fun thing to do. Kids could play three or four different sports without any worry of them overlapping. They generally had practice right after school so it would not interfere with family dinner. And while a commitment was necessary, you weren’t committing your entire life. There were no such things as tournaments every weekend or year-round seasons.
Fast forward to when my kids were little. This is when it started. I remember one time we made the decision to allow one of our daughters to play in a soccer tournament on a Sunday morning. As I sat there at the edge of the field, I remember being overwhelmed with guilt. What were we doing? Were we teaching our kids the values we wanted them to have by choosing a soccer game over church? Most certainly not. My husband agreed and that was the last time we missed church because of a sporting event.
While I am not judging anyone–everyone has their own reasons and this is between them and the Lord–I do wonder if we shouldn’t bring a little more discernment to this area of sports.
As I walked through that sports complex, it suddenly hit me that Sports has become the new church. It is where people go to catch up on the latest gossip, to watch their cute kids “perform”, to learn teamwork, and to socialize. It is there that parents help “teach” (coach) and provide snacks. It’s where people go to worship. If you doubt it, just watch fans and parents get passionate as they stand on the sidelines. Few of us bring so much feeling to our church worship. This weird new phenomenon of the “sports church” has left most families with little energy and even less free time to fit church responsibilities into an already too busy schedule.
Sports are not evil. They are a gift from God, given to us to enjoy. But when they lead to skewed priorities and are given idol status in our lives–ahead of God and even ahead of what’s best for our families then something is dreadfully wrong.
Now that I am on this side of it and most of my kids are grown, I find myself wondering if parents truly understand the sacrifice they are making to have their kids so involved in something that will not benefit them in the long run?
Sure, they can learn teamwork, but they will learn that same thing at home when they garden, clean, or play games with their families.
Sure, they will learn how to dribble or run bases, but is this really our long-term goal for our child or are there some things that are so much more important?
Sure, it will keep them “out of trouble”, but is it really worth all the lost time we are missing–time we could be spending eating together, playing together, and conversing about important life issues together?
Life is so short. The time we have with our kids is some of the most precious we will ever have in our entire time here on this earth. And while sports can be a wonderful part of family life, we need to be so careful not to allow it to become a thief–a thief of those precious family hours, a thief of the carefree, spontaneous childhood your children deserve, and a thief of the time spent in God’s Word on Sunday mornings. It’s not worth it.
This Sunday will find many extra people in church, but many of them will most likely be back on the sidelines next week. Are you going to be one of them?