“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” — Proverbs 14:23
We’ve all heard it. We’ve all probably even said it at one time or another, whether as a parent or a coach. Three little words that have come to haunt youth sports: “Just have fun.”
Before you begin to hurl tomatoes at me, let me explain where I’m coming from. Should youth sports be fun? Yes! Should they always be fun? No!
Too many parents and coaches only want to “sell” a sport as a way to have fun. “I don’t care if they win or lose, I just want them to have fun!” Here’s the truth: Fun is fine and good, but fun is only going to take you so far.
– Fun is subjective: Fun to one player may be torture for another.
– Fun is short-lived: Is “fun” only when I don’t have pressure? Or is it fun only when I do have pressure?
– Fun is shallow: Can one truly improve and grow if things are always fun?
– Fun is self-serving: Very little sacrifice is needed if things are always fun. It becomes more about doing what makes me happy and not what can benefit another person.
I’m beginning to sound like a curmudgeon, aren’t I? “This dude is anti-fun,” you might believe. Not at all! But, I do believe we shortchange our kids of discovering their potential when we focus too much on having fun, and not enough on perseverance.
A kid hears for several years, “As long as you’re having fun, you should keep doing it. But when you aren’t having fun, you should stop.” So, what happens when it becomes work to be able to hit a curveball? Or to block a defensive lineman 50 pounds heavier? Or to guard the best point guard on the opposing team? It’s not fun when you strike out, get flattened or get beat to the hoop every time down the court.
Instead of the word “fun,” perhaps we should say “rewarding.” When something no longer pays dividends, perhaps it’s time to broaden your horizons and seek other opportunities. But just because something becomes difficult doesn’t mean it’s time to throw in the towel.
Joy is the byproduct of working through challenges. When we give up too soon, we miss out on the joy we could experience. But when we hunker down, get gritty, and dig deep to meet a challenge head on, we’re better for it in the long run — and others likely will be too!
— C.A. Phillips, Communications Pastor at NorthStar Church, Kennesaw, Georgia
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