Thursday, June 14, 2007

Sunday Morning Sports

I've just finished and submitted an article to Episcopal Cafe on this subject and will put the link here once it's posted there.

But in the meantime...for any and all of you lurkers out there - I want your comments, please!

We just finally had to make the call that we knew was inevitable: we had to say no to a Sunday morning sports event. Now, keep in mind, this is for an all-star soccer team following a terrific regular season and play-off tournament.

I don't know about you but I'm just 'done' with the whole notion that kids' sports rule our lives to the extent that they supersede family dinner time, family down-time, and church.

I even thought about this from a multi-religious standpoint and wondered how then you deal with Saturday for Jews, etc. But I think - and someone please correct me if I'm wrong - that for Muslims, Friday is the big day, for Jews the Shabbat at home on Friday night is the main thing...but for Christians - Sunday morning is huge to our identity. We are the church, and Sunday morning is ours. So, I'm just tired of these sporting takeovers of Sunday mornings.

Of course that leaves the whole issue of sabbath time for any and all of us out of the discussion.

But, I hear that in Britain sports events happen through the schools in the afternoons- think Hogwarts quiddich matches - and are in rotation with study halls and tutorials such that when kids go home at the end of the day 'round supper time, they are 'done' with school for the day, homework and all - and their weekends are mostly free. This just seems so much more reasonable and balanced to me.

What is our problem? Why have we allowed our kids' sports and activities to dominate and even dictate our family discretionary time?


Father Eric said...

Right On! Jennifer, this is a battle I've been fighting for decades, both as parent (with kids involved in soccer and then later involved in marching band competition) and as a parish priest. I've even done parish adult education presentations on the lasting beneficial effects of an early and strong faith commitment vs. the ephemeral benefits of youth sports competition. (There's plenty of research out there to firmly support the proposition that our children are much better off in college and later life if they go to church on Sundays instead of the soccer field!) Alas....

But keep it up. "On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the soccer stadium will not prevail against it."

PS -- I left the same comment at Episcopal Cafe.

klady said...

Hello Jennifer,

I'm really sorry if I seemed to come down hard on your well-intended essay at the Episcopal Café. As you can tell, I'm very passionate about soccer, as is my child. Every year I do seriously question whether we should continue, and, in fact, we've made some changes when we felt our values conflicted with those of the coach and some of the parents. And, as I've said at my own blog, I do see plenty of ugly stuff in soccer, especially at the higher levels of competition and the older age groups.

But... I wish I could tell you more about my child, how and where she got her love of soccer, and what it has done for her. I know she's a better and happier person, as a result. I would like to think her religious faith is strong, as well, but I guess that remains to be seen.

I didn't do sports as a child, nor did my husband, although my children's father (now deceased) did. This is foreign territory for us, but I do believe it is fruitful. I do, however, respect yours and Eric's opinion to the contrary. I'll be the first one to join you in starting a movement to close most stores and businesses on Sundays (and then we can talk about soccer!).

Hope you are having a wonderful Father's Day. We actually are home, ourselves.



frsean said...

Jennifer.. Rev. Mo...

Great post. You hit the nail on the head. Sad to say it, but we see this phenom even in the bright sunny rural (we think that Christianity and Culture are still married) South. The one that got me earlier this year was the high school kid who was going on Palm Sunday for a basketball tournament at one of the SEC universities. Many SEC schools used to at least pay lip service to trying not to get in the way of the church schedule. Not so in this instance.

Rev. Will Willimon, UMC bishop and former Duke chaplain has a great sermon about working with the local rabbi to collectively petition the league to remove games from Saturdays and Sundays. Seems reasonable to me.

Kathryn, I hear where you're coming from. I think you might have more luck asking the leagues to rethink their schedule than to get blue laws re-enacted. I fear the malls will be open on Christmas and Thanksgiving in my lifetime. I have to agree with the spirit of Jennifer's article, though. Seems like we prioritize everything above church. But my only is 19 months old... I'm not having to deal with this one with my own children... yet.

Jen, maybe for your next blog post you should take on Episcopalians who take summers off... another of my pet peeves, that I'd bet you share. (But maybe that'd go over like a fart in church!)



Jennifer+ said...

Thanks all for your contributions to this conversation. As usual, this issue is not as simple as it seems - complexities abound!

Sean+ - I would love to take on the whole "take church off for the summer" pet peeve. For now, I have some case studies to finish up for my D.Min. program - but that is one that is now on my list - Thanks!


Paul said...

YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for saying all of this. I've shared with multiple people.

When our kids leave home, are we going to want them to have spent more time on the sports-field or with their faith family?

Rev Dr Mom said...

I'm late to this conversation (just found your blog) but wanted to jump in and say I totally agree with you. But it is a difficult thing to fight against.

I greatly admired a family at my field ed church a few years ago whose son started Little League and frequently had Sunday morning games. On those Sundays one of the parents brought him (n uniform) to 8:00 church on the way to the game. That solution may not be feasible for everyone, but it seemed like a good compromise.

Mother Laura said...

The British approach sounds great, especially as I think Saturday is as much a problem for observant Jews as Sunday for Christians. There are synagogue/temple services both on Friday nights and Saturday mornings, and of course those who keep the Sabbath in a serious way might have trouble with the sports themselves and/or the travel there--I don't know how details would work on that. It would be great to have more alliances like the one FrSean mentions between Christian and Jewish clergy to take this on. Roman Catholic parishes always have a Saturday evening service but most TEC and other mainline congregations don't have the numbers for one or two Sunday services plus that (or Sunday evening).