almost twenty years ago tony campolo wrote an article within his book “twenty hot potatoes CHRISTians are afraid to touch” called “should pastors preach against footbal.” if i could find a link to the article online i would link to it for all of you to read. as i remember it campolo’s point was that football within america had reached a point where it might be causing more trouble than it is worth. he discussed not just the amount of resources put into the game but also the way families are effected by an intense love of the sport.
now before i say anything else i want to say that i love the game of football (and sports in general). for a significant part of my childhood and youth playing football was very important. my family took me to practice, we went to games, and we watched games regularly. i still love football. there is little that is more inspiring than a great sports story and watching college games on saturday and pro games on sunday are both enjoyable times for me (both conscious and unconscious).
yet i’m really getting to a point where i am disturbed by almost all the “major” sports within america. this week i went to a middle school basketball parent meeting where it was said that the purpose of the middle school program was not to win middle school championships but rather to act as a feeder program for the high school basketball team. the coach said the middle school team’s purpose was to make it where the high school team could win championships. these were 6th,7th, & 8th grade kids that are now a part of a “feeder program” for high school sports. of course, this is nothing new for some middle school football programs.
there is so much more than a simple parent meeting that concerns me. parents sent home with play books and drill books so that they can practice their kids when they are at home (i’m all for dads and sons doing things together – but is it really family time when all you do is practice for a sport? – for some this might be “yes” because they are able to do this with their child and make it a bonding time). kids who are basically in year round practice that is done in ways to avoid the state regulations (practices with the coach sitting in the stands rather than being on the field). team programs that constantly sell their kids supplements to encourage a body shape that probably won’t be kept after high school. these are all things that concern me.
the catch for me is that i really love the good aspects of sports. i love seeing a team form together and strive after a common goal. i love seeing people push beyond themselves in order to achieve what others think is impossible. there is so much that is good about sports which is why i encourage my own kids to play and participate (though within the past few years i have become much more in favor of promoting the non-major sports – i.e. wrestling, running, etc). i’m just concerned at this point.