Paying Too Much for Your Child’s Sports?

sportsI’m an avid sports fan. I was never accused of being a good athlete, but I tried and enjoyed playing. Both of my sons are far better athletes than I ever was, and I really enjoyed helping, watching and enabling them to play baseball, basketball and football.

I believe in youth sports programs. But as I have watched the development of these over the years, I have often wondered about the price some families are paying for the imagined success of their budding athletes. And the greatest price is not the financial outlay required, though that can be substantial. The greater cost is in what is being communicated to many children regarding the right values and priorities in life. I was reminded of this recently in an article by Dave Ramsey as he cited 7 indicators that parents are paying too much for their child’s sports involvement. Three of those especially caught my attention. According to Dave, you’re paying too much when…

You and/or your child is skipping church or family events to attend games

You’re stealing from your necessities to pay for sports expenses

You’re more excited than your child

Many parents operate under the belief that their child is an exceptional athlete who has to be groomed for a college scholarship or a future as a professional athlete, making church, family schedules and wise financial planning take a back seat to sports.

I remember what a coach with one of the nation’s leading college athletic programs told me a few years ago regarding the push from parents to get their son or daughter on the “right team” to give them every chance to be seen by a college or professional scout. As a coach with years of experience and success, he said, “If you have a son or daughter in sports at any level and with any potential, they are on the scouting radar for scouts across the country. They don’t have to be spending inordinate amounts of time and money to get someone’s attention. We know who and where they are.”

I thought about Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees. Recently retired, Rivera holds the record for most saves in MLB and will certainly enter the Hall of Fame as one of baseball’s greatest pitchers. How did he make it to the majors? He grew up in a tiny fishing village in Panama. He played baseball on a trash-littered beach when the tide was out, with a glove made from a piece of cardboard. He quit school to go to work on his father’s fishing boat. But he was still on the scouting radar and the Yankees signed him to a contract. The rest, as is said, is history.

If you are leading your children to put a team, a game or a tournament ahead of church on Sunday, you’re making a value statement. Why not trust God to take care of their future as you teach them to “seek His kingdom first,” allowing Him to add all the other things they need in life.

Sports are wonderful, but just be sure you’re not paying a price too great – one that will maybe even cost the spiritual well-being of your child for a lifetime and eternity to come.


The Busyness Trap

BusynessIt’s that time of year. April 15th is only a week away. My CPA recently told me that the “normal” hours no longer exist during this season. Days begin early and often go until 2 a.m., leaving only a few hours to rest before beginning again. Thankfully, that doesn’t continue throughout the year. But that conversation struck a cord with me as I have been battling my own to-do list lately.

Life has its seasons. Not just the four seasons, but seasons that relate to a stage of change or of responsibilities, schedules and activity. Those seasons are not always predictable. Life seems to be running smoothly and then, you look at your calendar and find that there just don’t seem to be enough hours to get it all done. I’ve been in one of those seasons lately. It can be frustrating. But God has recently given me some needed insight into this season of busyness.

First of all, I have discovered that I have become a victim of the digital age. Technology is a wonderful tool, but it also has its dangers. One of those is the threat of encroachment – the fact that we are always available to our work and to others. My digital devices can set and control my schedule. As a result, there is little opportunity for rest or quiet periods that leave room for our minds and spirits to take some needed sabbatical hours. As a result, I don’t start the day with a renewed joy because I never really left work. I left the office, but not work. I stayed connected, even working while semi-engaged in what is supposed to be a relaxing time at home. So I have a hard time getting back to work the next day because I never really left work. It becomes a cycle that wears me down and makes me less productive while constantly working. Pascal once said, “I have often said that the sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room.” In our digital age, that statement is more true than ever. I have too often bought the lie of believing that every possible moment must be given to getting the work done and being constantly available. But the truth is, a schedule that allows for some time away from my work will allow me to focus on work when I should be working. Staying plugged in makes me less effective, not more.

The second lesson is a reminder of the fact that my plans are not the ones that matter most. Yes, I should have plans and goals. But I also need margin in my schedule which allows for the unexpected that God brings into my day. Psalm 146:4 says, “When his breath departs, … on that very day his plans perish.”  One day my life will end and my plans will perish as well. When that day comes I don’t want my legacy to be the fact that I was a busy man. I want it to be a legacy that demonstrates the value of knowing Christ and enjoying life in the pursuit of His plans. I want His to-do list to dominate my calendar. When that happens, frustration gives way to fulfillment. That’s the season I want to live in. How about you?