Wednesday, October 11, 2006

To Play or Not to Play

How quickly 5 months can go by! It has been a busy summer and early fall for us. A great deal of my time has been consumed by my day job due to a labor union strike at my company. With the labor force on strike, salaried have had to keep the company running and that has resulted in considerable more hours than usual. Additionally, our three oldest boys play baseball and football and that too has kept us on the run to some extent; more on that below. As far as the farm goes, we have continued to care for our new fruit trees, enjoyed our first season with the raised beds, and have nurtured our layers throughout the summer, eggs should be on the horizon. A great deal of our farm work and progress is actually going to happening this fall. It seems like fall and spring is when we accomplish the most on the farm. We have also recently invested a fair amount of our free time into completing some remodeling projects on our house. I may touch on remodeling in future post.

I mentioned sports above, and that is what I'd like to focus on today, probably because it's been on mind a lot lately. Something I've noted in the last year as I've spent more time reading agrarian blogs, is that youth sports are not mentioned much. I'm curious as to the reason. I'm sure that some bloggers may not have young children or teenagers at home. I know that many are homeschooled and therefore do not have school related sports available. Others may not believe that children should compete in sports. Whatever the reason, I'm interested in hearing why. As for us, we homeschool and have children in public school. But, in both situations our children have competed in youth sports, both public recreation leagues and school teams. I coach many of these teams and the events are family affairs for us. One of our children is on traveling baseball team that I co-coach and we have struggled at times wondering if it is too much, but have still come to a decision that as long as we enjoy it and the sport is kept in the proper perspective we will continue.

Sports in America is an idol to many and this is a fact we are fully aware of. We go to great lengths to keep athletics and sports in the proper perspective with our children. It is a great enjoyment for our children, it keeps us and them active in our community, and it is physically healthy. There are a variety of positive aspects to sports that get overstated; some of them true and some of them not so true. But, when approached with the appropriate Christian mind set, I believe sports can be a healthy beneficial part of a Christian agrarian home.

What say you fellow agrarians. (Don't be afraid to disagree, we are not easily offended.) Just be sure and give me a reason to satisfy my curiosity.

God bless


The Bradshaws said...

It sounds as if you have carefully evaluated how organized sports are affecting your lives and are exercising discernment. You are to be commended for that and although I have come to a different conclusion, I am not trying to persuade anyone into agreeing with me.

We have chosen to evaluate sports, and any other activity requiring daily, weekly, or periodic commitment in light of its overall affect on the family and the children. We are far from being escapists, but are rather trying to be intentional in our activities.

We have found that participation in sports, church youth groups, community dancing and parachurch activities that tend to split the family - player vs. observer, youth vs. adult, fathers and sons vs. mothers and daughters, etc. - ultimately result in the children's hearts being focused outside the family instead of toward the family. There are also secondary issues that we almost always find in those settings such as immodesty, bad attitudes, and a strong tendency toward gossip and slanderous conversations.

We do still participate fully in a family integrated church, in special occasion activities, family events and celebrations, and occasional pick-up soccer and football games.

For us, this approach has led to less stress on the family, a greater longing to be together as a family for all activities and greater satisfaction in those activities.

As you well know, there are always plenty of chores and tasks to be addressed when you live on a farm. We experience greater satisfication and joy while accomplishing those tasks with every member of the family actively contributing than we ever have with outside organized activities.

I hope this helps your understanding just a little bit.

Blessings to you and yours,

TnFullQuiver said...

I appreciate the comments and will consider these fully. It is so beneficial for me to not exclude the thoughts and wisdom of other Christians, especially when they challenge my own belief.

Chicken Mama said...

This is a very difficult topic to weigh out. Thus far, with our oldest being only 7, it hasn't been something we've had to wrestle with often yet.

Our reasons to this point have been much in sync with the Bradshaws. We've been appalled at some of the behavior of both kids and grown-ups at some events we've attended. We also know many families who are run ragged by the number of practices and games they are shuttling kids around to. It's great that your whole family truly enjoys the games as "family time," but most folks we know are dropping off one kid here, sitting through a practice with another there, only to rush back to pick up the first one, then have to swing through a drive-thru, shoe-horn in homework, and on and on. The toll on most families we've seen gives us pause.

We homeschool and our kids do participate in groups and activities (just about everything at church, scouts, homeschool Enrichment and field trips, etc.), and we've done a couple of rounds of YMCA soccer. We are just very reluctant to commit to activities where we aren't all participating somehow or that would otherwise take away from time on joint projects/activities. (Scouts, for example, encourages the whole family's participation. My nearly 5 year old daughter is allowed to do everything [camping, etc.] my son does except earn merit badges).

We've found also that nearly every one of the sporting activities we've looked into require the sacrifice of Saturdays. We are very protective of those days since they are the only whole days that can be devoted to farm projects (again, things we all do together, as witnessed by my children in nearly every picture of projects we've posted to the blog :-) ).

Also, I will say that our pediatrician does NOT "encourage" competitive sports, especially at an early age. She's seen too many kids hurried and under stress both from the schedule they keep and the pressure to perform.

She generally advises that if a child has an interest in a sport, say soccer, and kicking a ball around the yard with friends or a parent a few times a week meets that need, leave it at that. Only when the interest exceeds that and it remains a fun outlet should the child be signed up for organized sports.

It sounds like your family has a good perspective on things, though, and every family does have to weigh these things out for themselves. We will continue to evaluate the place and importance of sports as our kids get older.

Glad to see you blogging again. Looking forward to reading about what's kept you so busy.