Each year, thousands of parents are faced with the decision, “to play or not to play?” The evolution of travel sports is reaching an unexpected level. Local sports leagues, families and communities are affected by the phenomenon. Caught in the middle of this rising tide are parents. Parents wrestle with the worries their child may be left behind if they don’t participate in travel sports. They are faced with the ever-increasing pressure to participate in travel sports. Often, parents are not well equipped to make wise decisions concerning travel ball. The following is a list of considerations and Biblical references that parents can use to help them when facing the decision, to play or not to play.
• Does involvement in travel sports unknowingly teach children that sports are more important than the church or other important family functions?
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near,” Hebrews 10:23-25.
• Does the involvement in travel sports place unnecessary financial pressures on the family? Does it require parents forsake the tithe to the local church and unknowingly teach children that giving to the local church is a lower priority?
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth,” Matthew 6:24.
• Does the involvement in travel sports enhance family time or erode it?
“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up,” Deuteronomy 6:4-7.
• Does the involvement in travel sports help the family grow closer to Jesus?
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect,” Romans 12:1-2.
• Does the involvement in travel sports enhance the child’s love for the game and life, or change it into a career activity? Why do the kids play – for fun or future?
“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father,” Colossians 3:17.
• Does a family devotion on travel sports weekends equal attending a local church worship time? Hebrews 10:23-25.
• Does the family’s devotion to Jesus become evident to those around them at travel sports tournaments?
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven,” Matthew 5:14-16.
• Does the family understand the spiritual consequences of involvement in travel sports tournaments?
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life,” Galatians 6:7-8.
• Does the involvement in travel sports teach children to serve others?
“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God,” 1 Peter 4:10.
Each family will ultimately have to make this decision and stand accountable for the decision. If you are a parent and you determine to allow your children to play travel sports, then make it your aim to carry the gospel into the ballpark or gym with you each weekend.
Will McReynolds is senior pastor of West Hills Baptist Church in Lebanon. Preacher’s Corner features a new local preacher writing a column each month.