Daniel Kleyn’s October article entitled “Sports-Craziness” is somewhat upsetting to me. While the article brings out many examples of abuses and extremes, I’m afraid that the author fails to adequately point out the importance and virtue of sports in the life of a Christian young person.
Various documented studies show the immediate benefits of sports participation for youth in terms of grades, drop-out rates, discipline problems, physical fitness, etc. Sports, however, also give many irreplaceable future benefits when properly enjoyed by Christian youth.
Training in sports is proper preparation for Christian life. Young people who participate in sports, (not only those who succeeded in terms of medals, trophies and scholarships,) learn valuable lessons on the importance of diligence, responsibility and teamwork. Students of sports learn through concrete example:
1) Control of emotion (Prov. 14:17, Col. 3:8)
2) Sacrifice of personal glory for achievement of common goals (Matt. 20:26)
3) Improvement through practice and hard work (Prov. 11:27, Phil. 4:13)
4) Respect for authority (Duet 5:16)
5) Proper stewardship of the human body (I Cor. 3:16, 6:19, Rom. 12:1)
6) Christian witnessing (Eph. 5:8)
7) Working together as a team (I Cor. 12: 14 ff.)
These skills are applied very directly to the work of the Kingdom. Young people who aren’t properly trained in sports, often do not have the teamwork skills necessary to interact profitably on the important teams (i.e. consistories, school boards, families, etc.) I believe that the lessons learned from sports turn out to be more important than any other single, secular school subject (i.e. Science, Arithmetic, Grammar etc.)
Sports should be a vital part of the lives of young Christians. I would like to see the Beacon Lights used to encourage the proper use of sports for our young people.
Thank you for your response to my article, “Sports- Craziness.” Responses are always appreciated.
In your letter you state that the article failed adequately to point out the importance and virtue of sports in the life of a young Christian person. I feel, however, that this was not the case. Let me quote a paragraph from the article.
Now I am not saying that sport is bad in itself, for it can have a place in a Christian’s life. In a Christian atmosphere, sport can be useful, worthwhile, and advantageous. In such a setting, there is opportunity for Christian fellowship, for relaxation, and for caring for our God given body.
I therefore did mention the usefulness of sports.
However, I did not develop and show in detail how sport is beneficial in a Christian’s life, for this was not the purpose of the article. I believe that we do not face the danger (if it can be called that) that insufficient emphasis is placed on sports. The young Christian needs to be made aware of the danger of placing too much emphasis on sports. And, as I pointed out in the article itself, it is important that all of us, not just the young people, realize that we must not get caught up in all the sports-craziness of the world.
In your letter, you point out the ways in which participation in sports is of benefit to a Christian young person. I agree that these can be benefits of sports. I do not agree, however, when you state that “the lessons learned from sports turn out to be more important than any other single, secular school subject.” Sports can be beneficial, sports can give “irreplaceable future benefits when properly enjoyed by Christian youth.” But participation in sports is not the only way to learn these benefits.
It seems to me that most of the skills that you list as benefits of sports should be developed and learned at home. It is in a covenant home, a home consisting of Christian parents (and brothers and sisters), that both young and old learn “diligence, responsibility and teamwork.” In this setting, with parents using loving discipline, children and young people learn how to “work together,” how to “improve through practice and hard work,” how to “control emotions,” and how to “sacrifice in order to achieve common goals.”
In addition to the Christian home, the classroom and playground settings at school also provide this training. And the work experiences of a young person, both in the home and out in the work force, likewise help to prepare a person with the necessary teamwork skills — skills useful for interaction in consistories, school boards, families, etc.
What benefits are obtained from sports can be obtained through the physical education classes taught at school. As my article, “Sports-Craziness,” showed, I am not opposed to sports which are a part of the school curriculum, so long as they are kept in a proper perspective. My opposition is to the emphasis that is placed on extra-curricular sports, on the many sport activities in which we involve ourselves, and on the many worldly sports events which often seem to have a much too important place in the lives of children of God.