The world of professional sports can be a fast paced and thrilling world to live in. Professional athletes have the opportunity to travel, meet celebrities and get paid to do what they love. The flip side of this reality though is that it can also be an incredibly tough world to live in. There is constant pressure from the people around you, demanding that you work harder, train longer and improve daily. If you aren’t careful the world of professional sports can drain you, take you to the point of exhaustion and in some instances force you to abandon what you value and love most for the sake of the game.
Our children idolize these players; they admire them, look up to them and want to grow up to be just like them one day. So how do we go about raising children who understand their beliefs and values and who hold firm to those beliefs during game time?
This weekend CBOQkids hosted a Faith and Family event with the Raptors 905. Families were invited to attend the game, get autographs from the 905 team and then join us down on the court for some fun! We had the absolute privilege of hearing from Herbie Kuhn who is not only the voice of the Raptors but also serves as the Chaplain for the Toronto Raptors and the Toronto Argos. Herbie shared openly with us all about the reality of professional sports and encouraged kids to remember that their faith is not just for Sunday mornings – instead their faith must be lived out on the court, on the field, on the rink or in the pool. Regardless of whether you are a basketball player, a hockey player, a dancer, a cheerleader or a musician – you have a responsibility to show more of Jesus to the people on your team and the people in the stands. Everything Herbie shared with us was encouraging and affirming but it was the last thing Herbie said that really stuck with me. Herbie told us that he is “first and foremost a child of God”, that above all else that is where his identity is found and rooted. Secondly he is “a Husband and a Father” and that being a chaplain to two Toronto sports teams is simply “What I do”. Herbie reminded us all in that moment that your involvement in the world of professional sports does not define you – it’s simply something you do – and that you are always a child of God and nothing will ever change that. It was a healthy and humbling reminder for us all that what we do will never be the defining factor of our worth or our value, that instead our identity is rooted in the fact that we are a child of God and we are infinitely loved and adored by our Father.
After Herbie shared his testimony our kids had the chance to head on down to the court and participate in a 90 second lay-up challenge. Two teams raced against the countdown clock in hopes of scoring the most baskets and winning some awesome Raptors 905 gear.
For those of you who were able to join us I hope you had an awesome day and our prayer is that it was meaningful time for you and your family. We hope that as a result of this event conversations were sparked that allowed your family to consider how you can live like Jesus in the world of sports and extra-curricular activities.
If you weren’t able to join us but would love to start having healthy and meaningful conversations with your kids (or you did join us and would like to know where to start and what to do next) you can find some helpful conversation starters below:
- Consider bringing snack for your child’s team one week – use it as a practical opportunity to serve them and their families (include your younger kids by having them serve the team snacks and model for them what it looks like to care for the people around them)
- Invite the entire team and their families over for a BBQ in the summer – make it a potluck and you supply the meat and buns. Create a space where families can meet, connect and build relationships
- Be mindful of how you model good sportsmanship – clap when the opposing team scores, be aware of the tone you are using when you cheer (consider if it is encouraging to everyone)
- Have conversations with your kids that allow them to understand that it is not all about winning – we want to create a culture of kids who celebrate the success of others, kids who work hard but who know how to win well and lose well
- Take time to appreciate your coaches – at the end of the season find fun and creative ways to thank your coaches for the time and energy they are investing into your kids.
- Get the whole team to sign a giant card
- Create a fun and unique certificate awarding them with the title “Coach of the Year”
- Have the whole team pitch in and buy them movie passes so that they can enjoy quality time with their family
- Before each game take time to pray with your kids
- Pray that God would allow you to be slow to anger while you play, that you would stay safe and healthy and that as a family you would be able to show more of Jesus to the kids on the team and the parents in the stands.
- When you’re at the dinner table ask your kids: “What do you think it looks like to live like Jesus? How does he want us to live and what does he want us to do?” Some answers may include: be kind, share, treat others the way we want to be treated, help others etc. Ask you children “How do you think we can be like Jesus when we go to hockey practice, or dance class or swimming lessons?”
- If your children are not involved in sports or extra-curricular activities how can you be modeling for them what it looks like to be involved and to love like Jesus in these contexts?
- Ask your child if they have any friends at church or at school who are involved in extra-curricular activities
- Take your child to their friend’s game and cheer their friend on together. Make a sign and write their friends number on it and cheer loudly so their friend feels loved and supported.
- Take your child to a friend’s dance recital and then out for ice cream after to celebrate together – find ways to be involved and share in these moments with your kids and demonstrate to them what it looks like to be a team player even if you aren’t on the team.
Ultimately we want our kids to know Jesus and to live lives that model his love and his grace to the world around them. Our faith needs to be lived out in each and every area of our lives and the ideas above are just a few small ways you can start to practically live out your faith in your communities. If you have any other creative ideas for how you can share your faith on the field or on the court feel free to share them with me at kkirkwood@Baptist.ca