Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Well, if I was you, I'd do something about it. I would get up and redeem myself in the eyes of my father, my maker, and my coach!

Do sports build character?

I think it's a good to stretch oneself, to branch out into different activities, at least that's what I've been telling myself lately.

I am the coach of Rachel's soccer team of 6 year-old girls, the Purple Pixies.

I've really been enjoying and learning a lot about myself.

Tonight was our first game. We won, 6-1 (our goal against being an "own goal").

Hey, these girls are good. I inherited a good team, so I feel the weight of pressure to keep it going.

Tonight and after each practice I have felt that this is time well invested. I see these girls working together and making friends and essentially building character.

Yet, I've also been wondering about the end result of all this, or the goal(s). Is the goal for these girls to play in the World Cup or the Olympics someday? For them to get athletic scholarships?

For me, I'm happy if they have fun, make some friends, and learn somethings about working together, being resilient, and not quitting. Winning really is just gravy.

But, do sports build character?

If so, what is the point of diminishing returns?

When do they hit their character zenith? Little league? High school? College?

Look to the professionals. They've likely been playing organized sports for the vast majority of their lives. Surely, their character would be off the charts, right? Not so much.

Among professional athletes you'll find drug abusers, wife abusers, DUI-ers, money-grubbers, ego-exalters, bat corkers, steroid users, dog fighters, ear biters, video-taping cheaters, and garden variety criminals.

Where does it go askew?

Anthony Bradley laments and suggests an answer:
"Unfortunately, whatever character-building potential may exist in the world of athletics is often overwhelmed by a profit motive devoid of moral constraints."
I'm not of the opinion that athletes should be role models, but I wonder about transition from kids having fun playing a game developing character to people whose character you clearly would not want your children to emulate.

As Kip would ask, "Why is that?"

Do sports build character?

Anthony Bradley would suggest it's not the sports involvement per se:
"Sports do not build character in young people but virtuous adults do. In one sense youth sport is simply a medium for adult mentoring within the context of challenging situations. Character is bestowed – or not – from one generation to another."
Perhaps that's true. If so, I feel an even greater burden for these girls, not so much to teach them how to score soccer goals and prevent the opponents from doing so, but to teach them godly character ... which is a weightier task by far.


At 26 September, 2007 12:28, Blogger samurai said...

I think I would agree that the Charecter building comes more from the older helping mmold the younger in how to deal with various situations.

My oldest son really loves playing dispite him not being the most 'gifted' player out there (something he knowns about), but loves to interact with his peers and the time out to exercise.

My youngest son is not able to participate in sports due to his Autism - he just has not been able to handle the interactions.

But my youngest, my only daughter, loves to do gymnastics and is looking forward to playing soccer in the Spring (when she's older).

My problem has been more of not being able to mentor them each directly due to my line of work (rotating on-call situation, as well as being a member of the reserves)... but I do interact with them in the context of these sports.

In short - I think the context of youth athletics is more a useful tool to help fathers (and mothers) interact with their children. Helping point out different things, and then helping them see things from a Biblical perspective.


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