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How To Handle Travel Sports – What Were We Thinking? Pt. 2

by Angie Camp

What Were We Thinking? Pt.2

– The Results of Travel Sports –

Parental Peer Pressure

Sports are fun. They are a great source of exercise, encourage teamwork, teach self-discipline and grant great life lessons. It’s also a wonderful way to make life-long friendships and sweet memories. 

But today, the desire to excel in sports has been taken to the extreme. In a parents’ drive to help their children be the best, they participate in travel sports. Many succumb to guilt, feeling they’d be keeping them from the opportunity of a lifetime. Some believe that without travel sports, their young athletes don’t stand a chance to achieve great success. Some families even have their children play on multiple teams in multiple sports. 

Others are peer pressured to keep the status quo and maintain a certain image. It’s also a way that parents live vicariously through their children in an effort to make up for what they view as their own lack.. 

Having decades of data to look at, the negative effects of travel sports should be concerning to parents.

Raising Up Idols

The first five of the ten commandments given to Moses focus on one’s relationship with God. The first, “You shall have no other gods before Me,”  the second, “Thou shalt not make for yourself carved images,” and the fourth, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy,”  tend to get broken in the world of travel sports. 

Commandment number one is broken when parents place their children on the throne of their hearts instead of God. Number two, when parents spend more time glorifying their rising athletic star instead of God. Number four, because travel sports have no consideration for time in God’s house. 

This lifestyle risks teaching children that sports take priority over everything. Teaching children the rules of the game instead of the commandments of God, Ingraining the fundamental disciplines of the game in their minds,  rather than engraving the disciplines of the Spirit on their hearts, and memorizing plays, instead of God’s word, send the message that God is optional, not vital.

Sacrificing Them On The Athletic Altar 

There are mounting concerns over the harmful consequences of such intensity, particularly at such young ages. In a study published in the May issue of the American Journal of Sports Medicine, University of Wisconsin researchers found that young athletes who participated in their primary sport for more than eight months, annually, were more likely to report overuse injuries. 

Intense specialization can also tax minds. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, burnout, anxiety, depression, and attrition are increased in early specializers. Devotion to a single sport may also be counterproductive to reaching college scholarships. 

There is also the sacrifice of the additional children in the family. Many of them are drugged on long weekends, driving for hours on end, living in hotels, and sitting in extreme temperatures while their child prodigy sibling takes centerstage. This neglect creates its own list of negative effects, such as inferiority, low self-esteem, unworthiness, bitterness, and resentment.

Sensing The Stakes Are Rising 

A 2016 study published in the journal Family Relations showed that the more money families pour into youth sports, the more pressure their kids feel. This lessens the enjoyment and commitment they have for the sport. It is also a breeding ground for resentment, toward their parents and the game.

Taking It To The Extreme

The parents of King-Riley Owens, age 9, and ranked as a five-star prospect by the National Youth Basketball Report, started a GoFundMe to help pay for the travel.  GoFundMe… a platform used to help raise money for major health crises or to pay for a funeral, is being used to pay for their child’s athletic uniforms and equipment, entry fees, hotel, food and gas expenses. Sadly, people will contribute.

Making A Shift

Parents defend travel sports by pointing out the advantages I mentioned at the beginning. The reality is that all of these can be achieved through Park and Rec sports.

Parents need to examine their motives for participating in travel sports, especially among those who claim to be believers. Ask yourself these questions: Do my children do this because they want to, or because I want them to? Does my whole family benefit from travel sports? Am I making as much time to instruct my children in the ways of the Lord as I am in travel sports? Am I focused on God’s plan for my children, or my own? What eternal value lies within travel sports? Am I teaching my children to serve, or to be served? How is my family making a difference for the Kingdom through travel sports?

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.”

1 Peter 1:24

travel sports


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Angie Camp is an author, speaker, and Christian Counselor. Aside from being a Mother and Grandmother “Peaches,” her primary focus is walking with women and girls along their journey from brokenness to healing, reminding them that the goal is not merely to survive, but to soar.

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