Some people might say that televsion was the beginning of a major shift for families, and who could argue that sitting in front of the tv while eating your sandwich is as good as breaking bread with a brother, sister, parents or friend? We think tv is a companion and forget it is not real. The people who entertain us on televison do not actuallly care about our life. While I am greatly troubled by screen time in general I would argue there is another insidious invader of family life- sports.
For complete transparency I must disclose that I was not raised in a family that played or valued sports. I recall my father admiring some athletes but mostly for their good works off the field. I married a very talented athlete who defines himself by the games he played. He identifies with sports and all useful analogies in our home are mysteriously, or not, sports related. First, we are a team, meaning the family is a “team.” Playing a sport is the only way anyone in our household can learn anything of lasting value; the rules of the game are the rules of life.
I am the mother of five daughters and thankfully, that have not all played a sport much to the chagrin of my husband. I do appreciate and acknowledge some of what sports have to offer, discipline, playing well with others, respecting your coach, and the art of learning to adapt to a variety of coaches some with off putting personalities. This can be challenging not only for kids but for the adults. There are a plethora of other lessons that sports teach I am sure…..none I think which cannot be learned in other aspects of life- in the classroom with teachers, at home, in our communities, and even places of worship. Here is my chief complaint- sports run the family schedule and now with the addition of club teams it is a relentless year round never ending saga where we run from game to game all weekend long. It interferes with any down time, any spontaneity or potential fun weekend excursions, and for me, any rest for the start of a new week. Why I wonder while I sit and listen to the parents who all think their child is the best on the team and will earn a scholarship to a division one school. That very minuscule percentage who actually make it is not a wake up call. And even if the gold ring is college tuition what after? Do sports make them better people or help them live more meaningful lives?
Is the invasion on family life and the precious free time worth the winning goal? Not for me and maybe the rest of the world disagrees. But I think they are being sold “snake oil” by a bunch of profiteers who year after year make more money by figuring ways to expand the programs with more tournaments, private lessons and so on. Who wins this game?