Last week I talked about the importance of keeping technology under control. Now, with the Atlanta Braves cranking up, I'm reminded of the importance of also keeping sports under control! Whether it is active participation or simply watching sports on television, there can be both positive and negative aspects.
My boys have always played baseball, and my girls have dabbled in softball, dance, and gymnastics. Group sports, at their best, can promote a healthy competitive spirit (with oneself and with others), can teach teamwork, encourage children to stay fit, and help them develop skills and have valuable contact with adult role models outside the family. Under the wrong coach, on the wrong team, in the wrong league, the life lessons learned may completely undo familial teaching.
Families can bond while watching one of the children play ball. Families can fall apart because television sports detract from time spent around the dinner table. Families can support each other in healthy competition. Poor sportsmanship on the part of adults can trigger all kinds of emotional problems in children.
Like anything else, participation in sports requires balance and thoughtful participation on the part of adults. When allowed to dominate all conversations during baseball season, it can leave no time for spiritual growth, for productivity in school or work, or for relationship-building. Done properly, it can add immensely to the enjoyment of life. So go watch your Braves, guys....but no screaming at the umpires! Make the effort to go in person a few times of year as a family instead of watching on television all the time, and spend some time throwing the ball around the yard once in awhile, rather than having all your contact with the game be vicarious.
Remember, too, that baseball, or any sport, can lead to academic knowledge, too. My boys learned a lot of geography through following major league cities, learned a great deal of math through working with their statistics, and often wrote stories that were baseball-related. We used to have a great math game called "Math Baseball"....I haven't seen it in stores for a couple of decades, although there is another called "Slugger", which I don't like quite as much....In math baseball, you picked a card (in the shape of a baseball), and worked the math problem found on it. On the back side, it said, "single", "double", "triple" or "home run", depending on the difficulty of the problem. If you got the problem correct, your man advanced to the proper plate. You could make one similar to this yourself with a little creativity...