Mrs Kalen Mainord, mother of two student athletes shares why competitive sports has made a positive impact in their children’s lives by strengthening walk with God and developing their character.
As soon as I saw the first article published about why sports matter, I volunteered to write about it from a parent’s perspective. I am a mom to three kiddos (high school, logic and grammar) involved in multiple sports, and my opinion about the positive value of sports participation has changed over the years. Pep squad, cheerleading and drill team rounded out my athletic achievements in high school.
Now, as a parent, my resume includes soccer, basketball, swimming, football, baseball, lacrosse, swimming, cross country and track, plus brief drills with gymnastics and tennis. This is true not because we have extraordinarily athletic kids, but because we have witnessed its positive impact on their character and so let them try different things. We have watched each of our children learn discipline and sportsmanship, grow in respect for authority and teamwork, and create some great relationships, while working really hard and having fun in their sport too. Additionally, their involvement has been to the glory of their walk as a Christian and not at its expense! Who knew?
Academic challenge is an accepted norm at our school and personal discipline is a must in order to keep up, and I am thankful. With the added challenge of conditioning physically, as well as mentally, for each of their particular sports, my kids have been stretched to new heights.
My daughter, for example, has been pushed to run farther and faster than she thought she could, to show up to practice when she didn’t want to go, to eat better to perform better, and to achieve a personal record. She has seen the reward and then, sometimes not. What happens when victory, points or personal record is not the outcome? Or when it is? Sportsmanship happens. She has learned how to accept disappointment and encourage others in their own battle of discouragement, as that has been beautifully modeled for her on her team. That team has also celebrated wins and humbly enjoyed accomplishment together. To consistently show up and perform both physically and mentally throughout a sport’s season fosters discipline. When that discipline does, and does not, pay off in victory, the opportunity for good sportsmanship is there. I have seen it, and it is good.
We have had some great coaches at CDA. While no one, no team and no organization is perfect, we have appreciated the coaching leadership for their heart as much as their development of skill in a specific sport. They have won our respect, because competing to them is also about character development in concert with winning.
In football, my son has learned to listen and obey instruction on the field and off, because it makes a difference to the team when he does. He has come to trust and respect the players and their positions as they have learned to work together under the leadership of the coaches.
The athletic theme this year is a perfect example of the heart as we have seen it carried out in JH football, “In all ways…always.” This comes from Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight.” With this as their foundation, the team is free to pursue excellence in competition together.
If you would have described our schedule due to sports to me several years ago, I would have laughed at you and walked away. Similarly, I would not have believed you if you tried to describe the benefits of participation in sports to me. I would have listened, but secretly convinced myself those benefits were available in a more convenient-to-us avenue, because I am just a little bit stubborn that way. And maybe they are. I can only testify to what we have experienced.
Involvement in competitive sports has made a positive impact in our children’s lives. It has strengthened their faith walk with God and their character as the challenges to persevere, dig deep, submit, lead, be kind, and love others have presented themselves. Bottom line: we drive countless miles, wash endless uniforms, and regularly try hard to embarrass our kiddos while cheering them on, because we believe it is all worth it—for their good and God’s glory!