Are Youth Sports a Friend or Foe of Christian Discipleship?

David Prince:
But, as Christian parents, our responsibility is to teach our children to take every thought captive to obey Jesus (2 Cor. 10:5)—including sports. Paul made it clear that there is something far more important than winning a perishable wreath on an athletic field (1 Cor. 9:25). Some Christians simply pull their children out of sports altogether because they do not want to face the decisions that will inevitably arise while navigating athletic involvement and a commitment to church and Christian service. One of the problems with this shortsighted approach is that the kids playing on these teams will one day have jobs, children and other responsibilities as they serve Jesus and his church. Showing them how to navigate these matters while faithfully committed to the supremacy of Christ is not a problem but a wonderful opportunity for discipleship. Nevertheless, like all of God’s good gifts, sports can be easily corrupted. Some Christians make the mistake of prioritizing sports over church by reasoning that the youth sports opportunity is for a limited period of time and church will always be there. Clearly, teaching children that sports are a valid reason to neglect God is disastrous. Some parents fashion themselves as victims in dealing with these issues as though they cannot set boundaries on their children’s participation. They reason as if the only options are not participating in sports at all or acting like the sports team’s practice and game schedule is in charge of their children’s lives.
Bingo. Sports (like any other activity) are not bad in themselves. It’s when we begin to worship it. Parents are just as guilty of this as children. As a parent of young boys, this is a timely article for me to read.