Friday, December 8, 2017
Read Matthew 19:13-15
Train up the child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
I have been involved with Upward Sports for several years. I have had the honor of watching players enter the system as Kindergartners and play through all the divisions and move on to high school sports. There are many benefits to the Upward Sports program. One is that it provides an alternative to other youth sports that are “chewing up” the young athlete. Many programs push the player to compete at levels that may be beyond their physical development. How many times have we seen Jr. High and High School athletes with support braces – not pads – on their bodies? How many high school athletes are no longer able to play at higher levels because they have reached the life-time concussion limit or torn a tendon beyond repair? Or, in my opinion, the worst thing that can happen to an athlete is to be put in a box while still developing and not allowed to reach their potential because the coach has already labelled them.
How often have we seen professional players caught in actions such as abuse of spouses, disorderly conduct, and even worse crimes. How about the current trend in professional sports for self-glorification after every play? Whether they mean to or not, some sports seem to be training athletes that their self-image is tied to how they perform on the field. It also seems to be telling them that as athletes, they are special and normal rules do not apply.
Upward Sports takes the usual practices and turns them on their head. We focus on developing the athlete in all areas: basic skill sets, the development of the athlete as an all-around player (learning all the roles), and rewarding the many skills it takes to be a leader, being accountable, and a person of God. Several professional coaches – Tony Dungy is an example -have mentioned the benefit, growth, and personal development benefits they have seen in athletes who have participated in Upward Sports over other secular sports programs.
When I work with an athlete and then see them get rewarded in a non-sports arena, it makes the effort of coaching feel worthwhile. I recently had a young player receive a Principal’s Appreciation award for actions the player took during a school day to assist another person. When I see this, I cannot help but believe that the lessons taught by Upward Sports played a part.
As the Bible says in Proverbs 22:6 “Train up the child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” This not only applies to sports but also everyday life.
PRAYER: Father, thank you for opportunities to teach young people. Help them to grow in strength of character as well as skill, so that they might have life abundant in you. Amen.
Prayer Focus: children, teens and those who teach them