Sunday, November 14, 2010

Youth Sports: I Used to Wear Soccer Shin Pads to Church

Today is Sunday. The day you are supposed to go to church, think about God, reflect on the week and rest. When I was a young kid, this was not hard to do because there was not really much that you could do on Sundays. Most stores were closed and most youth sporting events avoided Sunday games and practices. 

As I got older, however, youth sports started to impinge on the Holy day. Baseball started having some games late in the day on Sundays. We used to go to the last mass at 11:30 AM every week. Going to the last mass was not a issue because games would never start before 2 PM. Eventually, the schedule started featuring 1 PM games.  To make these games, I would have to go to church in my baseball uniform and leave immediately after we took communion.

I remember feeling a bit weird not wearing nice pants and shoes to church at first, but eventually, it felt quite liberating. I had a dark blue polyester shirt with bright white lettering across my chest that screamed White Sox. Needless to say, I stuck out in church when I wore it. It made a huge statement. My message to the congregation and the priest -- Hey Father, we don't care about your silly "do nothing on Sunday" rules. I was never quite comfortable with the statement I was making. Over time, I remember going to church in my soccer uniform, shin pads and all. I guess I wore the shin pads to protect myself from the wrath of the Lord.

Nowadays, every store is open except Chick-fil-A and sports teams do not even hesitate to schedule games and practices on Sundays, and that includes mornings. Today we have an optional futsal (an indoor form of soccer) scrimmage at 9AM and an optional baseball practice at 10AM. When futsal league play starts, it will not be as optional and when winter baseball training officially starts in January, that will not be as optional either. Today we are taking the option and will not go. Both of my athletes do, however, have basketball practices later in the day.

The Main Point

Taking Back Sundays is a grass-roots initiative of parents collectively reclaiming Sunday as a sports-free day. They have a pledge that they want all of us Crazy Youth Sports Parents to take. While I admire the tenets of the movement, our family will not be taking the pledge because we could never honor it. We do still, however, honor God in our way. Judge us if you like. 

The organization behind Taking Back Sundays is concerned about over-scheduled kids and under-connected families. The organization believes that over-scheduled kids miss out on essential family time, especially meal time. My kids are most definitely over-scheduled, but I think that youth sports brings our family together. While we do not eat together at home often, we regularly go out to eat after games as a family. 

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