What do children gain from organized sports activities? New friends, perhaps , and more developed social skills. Children also find needed recreational activity and, one hopes, the ability to work with others in stretching toward a common goal.
All these things are worthwhile and have made many youth sports organizations valualbe to their communities.But there can be a few undesirable aspects to athletic activities for children that bear watching.
"Macho" is one of the undesirables. It's a term adopted from some English speakers to indicate a showy, aggressive brand of behavior that somehow is connected to the idea of manhood. Tendency toward such action is often present in youth sports activities.Even parents of little girls have sometimes found their daughters subject to the same kind of thing in sports.
The Bible teaches a type of manhood that is the opposite of "macho." Christ Jesus is the best example of it. What he teaches will stand any test. With the manhood he knew he had because he was God's Son, Jesus walked quietly through a mob that wanted to kill him; he stood up and clamed a storm; and he counseled Peter not to strike back when others threatened.
Jesus was meek; but he was not weak. As we teach our children to look to God for what they need in all their activities, they will find themselves capable of following Jesus' example of meekness. And they will discover great happiness (the kind that shouldm come from athletics) in doing so.
Jesus understood himself from the inside out. that is, he knew it was because he came from God that he could do what he did. As our children learn that their being is likewise from the inside out(that it comes from God), their years of playing will be joy all the way through rather than a never-satisfied quest for identity via athletic prowess. They'll be playing sports on the foundation of what they know is true about themselves rather than in conformity to the artificial pattern of "macho."
Mary Baker Eddy n1 recognized the potent example of Christ Jesus' manhood as well as the futility of animal-like behavior. She said, "The notion that animal natures can possibly give force to character is too absurd for consideration, when we remember that through spiritual ascendency our Lord and Master healed the sick, raised the dead, and commanded even the winds and waves to obey him." n2
n1 Mrs. Eddy is the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.
n2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,m p. 67.
Often fear is an underlying cause of children's picking up on macho images in sports. Children feel they must act big and brave and all-conquering to ward off threats. Threats of what? Many things. But most if not all of them boil down to the fear of losing their self-respect, their feeling of importance or of belonging in the group.
Returning to Jesus' example: It is true that he was unafraid of outside threats of whatever nature. Why? How could he be so confident and safe? His life -- his identity and worth -- came from God. They were untouchable. Knowing this, he stood up to mobs and triumphed even when put through the severest test. He understood that his manhood was in Spirit -- he didn't have to establish it or even protect it. Because it came from God, it carried him; he didn't carry it. Children can learn step by step to do the same.
Study of the Biblical story of Jesus' life can give joy and confidence to children. It can help send them off to sports activities in a natural, happy way. They can feel the same joy Eric Heiden (who doesn't remember him?) said he felt because he didn't skate for the promise of financial rewards or national glory or even a built-up ego, but simply because he "loved to skate." DAILY BIBLE VERSE When I became a man, I put away childish things. I COrinthians 13:11