Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Coach and My Mom

My mom hates sports.  She tries to back off her opinions a little sometimes for us, given that the rest of us like to watch sports (not to mention that I'm an athletic trainer) but she hates them.  You can tell.  She hates the way that they become the all-consuming focus of the athletes.  She hates the amount of time that they suck away from family time.  She sees watching college/professional sports as a waste of time.  If you really want her to get going on a rant and rave, get her talking about trying to schedule things for religious ed (she's the director of religious education at their church).  The number of times that she's had to reschedule or that there is no available time to schedule something because of numerous sports activities has made her crazy.

Then there's Coach.  Keep in mind that I've only seen/talked to the man when there is a game or if an athlete is mentioned.  So I don't have the full story.  However, from what I've seen, this man thinks, breathes, eats and sleeps football all the time during football season.  I'm sure it tones down a little in the off-season, but given what the athletes tell me about the rest of the year, it's still there.  We had a big game the other night, substate playoffs.  I don't know who showed up to play that game, but it wasn't the team that I've watched the rest of the year.  Anyway, they're playing like they've never seen a football before, so you can imagine that the coaches were quite unhappy at half time.  Here's Coach's final remark to the team: "If you don't turn this game around, you'll be carrying this around like an 800-pound weight for the rest of your life!"

Uh, Coach?  I'd like to introduce you to a friend of mine, Perspective.  Perspective has a lot of connections and can hook you up with some one-way tickets out of Crazyville.  Seriously.  Get to know him.*

I would like to propose a middle ground.  I love sports.  I'm not so good at playing them (not going to lie, I just never had that competitive spirit; I'd rather go hiking).  But I love them nonetheless.  In a world that wants to bubble wrap kids and protect them from all the bumps and bruises, there is something about football that is refreshing.  It is a chance for boys to be the boys they are meant to be.  Push themselves to be faster, stronger.  To be a little dangerous.  To sweat and bond as only males can bond.  I don't understand it, but I see it and it seems good to me.  Not only that, but look at the way sports can bring a town together; give them a common thing to cheer for.   

Learning to win and lose is so key as well.  Give me a team that claims to believe that "winning or losing doesn't matter, it's how you play the game" and I'll give you a team that's 0-for. You can't tell me they wouldn't be ecstatic to finally win a game.  Winning does matter.  It's just not the only important thing. It does matter how you play the game.  The boys this year won my respect for the way they played their first losing game.  How they played was more important than the ultimate outcome of the game.  I would like to say that the lessons from both winning and losing are invaluable.  Just keep in mind that it is a game, and don't get too caught up in wins or too devastated by losses.

On the other hand, sports are out of control.  The time and money that is spent on camps, equipment, work outs, and so forth is excessive.  It decreases family time together, and even little kids are spending more and more time at practice and games.  There is too much pressure on kids to be the best possible athletes and not enough on enjoying that time.  Also, God should always be the first priority, no matter what is going on in sports.

If I ever have kids, I want them to be able to participate in sports that they enjoy.  However, I think that it's really important to figure out the boundaries ahead of time.  Otherwise, it comes down compromising first one thing and then the other, and then sports are trying to fill a chasm in our hearts that only One can fill.

I think Gilbert Keith had it right again.  To paraphrase (because I'm too lazy to look it up): "People are often most right in what they affirm and wrong in what they deny."  

My mom is absolutely right that sports should not be a priority, but I think that she's wrong to deny the goodness in sports.

Coach is absolutely right that sports are a good thing, but I think he's denied other important aspects of life.  (Only in the way he approaches sports; again, I don't know him outside a sports setting.)

That's my opinion.  What do you think?

*It's possible that there was some exaggeration going on so he could make a point.  I mean, not that I would ever exaggerate, but I've heard that some people do.  (I've also never been sarcastic.)

1 comment:

  1. I think you're right on. Personally, I love playing sports, but could care less about watching them. Our kids will certainly be encouraged to participate in them, but they will not be allowed to interfere with Sunday mass or other family obligations.

    At least, that's what I hope. That's what my parents did, but my husband's parents allowed Sunday games (going to Saturday night mass instead). You're right - it is important to figure out the boundaries ahead of time. Looks like I'll be discussing this with the man of the house tonight!

    Oh, and it is possible for coaches to have perspective (though it seems rare, perhaps especially so in the big sports like football). My high school cross country coach told us that both family and school came before sports. He was great.