Today is softball’s opening day for my daughter’s high school league. Thankfully, the sun came around and got things feeling good for us all. That’s what sports are supposed to do, right? For many of us, that is not what it does. It can feel at times like it is stretching us thin and weakening the quality of our faith. I used to get frenetic about spring time sports’ discordant effect on our family dinners, leisurely Sundays and general peace but the past few years I’ve been flying a “W” to boast of its lessons for our family.
There are many themes in sports that are applicable the faith life. Taking a tip from our pastor last who gave a great homily about the need for practice, here are 5 lessons from sports that my family will be focusing on this season:
1. Show up Ready to Practice
When kids play sports, often they have to make it to the practice time or the coach will bench them for the game. Or, they slide by and struggle on the field. Not only do they need to come to practice, they need to be ready to play. If you have coached, you know how annoying and unproductive it is when your team is distracted and unco-operative. What about Mass? If Mass is our practice, are our kids co-operating with the coach? We don’t want our kids to be benched in the game of life. God has so many dreams for them and wants to use them to build a more beautiful world but if they are not showing up to practice, they can’t do all the incredible things he has planned. Let’s encourage our kids to show up to Mass ready to participate.
2. Strengthen your Muscles
As they get older, the game gets more challenging- the field is bigger, opponents are more formidable, plays are trickier. The same is true for our faith. Our kids have to practice every day. They need faith muscles to hit one out of the park. Let’s teach our kids to grow a strong foundation in Truth through daily meditating on Scripture.
3. Keep a Good Attitude and Effort
My daughter’s coach said that there are really only two things he cares about from the girls: attitude and effort. If both of those things are there then they are doing their job. There are a lot of mistakes that will be made in a game as in life, and that is o.k. but attitude and effort will win the favor of your teammates, fans and coaches. Our kids will win more games and more battles in life with a good attitude and effort. Let’s keep positive attitudes in our own households so that our kids can continue with strong effort.
4. Go to the Trainer
I feel very fortunate that our high school has a trainer on staff full time. If anyone from the sports teams is injured, she can see the trainer for advice and physical therapy. Of course, ignoring an injury would risk potentially doing long term damage. What is true of our bodies is true of our souls. The Sacrament of Reconciliation can bring the healing and therapy that we need after the injury of sin. Let’s facilitate the ability for our children to attend and the Sacrament of Reconciliation often (2-12 times a year).
5. Learn New Skills
Can you imagine playing in a high school baseball game if the only practicing you did was when you were in second grade? Of course it would be hard! You’d get beaten every time. You might even start to feel that baseball is not for you. And that surly is what happens to many- they just don’t feel like putting in the time anymore. Let’s encourage our kids to actively keep discovering new things about the Lord, our faith and themselves.