November 18, 2017

Evaluating Team Sports: Should Large Families Participate?

You may have gathered by now that football season has rocked our world around here lately.  It seems that our life has started to revolve around it.  Between practices, more practices, film night, and out-of-state games, it’s begun to dictate our entire family schedule.

Can I just tell you that I have nothing against the sport of football itself? Whew.  Now that that’s out of the way, I can tell you what I DO have a problem with:

Hearth and Home being

  • divided
  • interrupted
  • disheveled
  • put on hold

for the sake of

  • practices three – four days a week, 40 minutes from home
  • practices that last 2 or 3 hours
  • extra practices
  • games that are out of state
  • practices and games that divide the family unit on most weekdays

Again, my problem is NOT against football.  Or even with my son playing the sport.  He has fun and I love that.

But there comes a time when a family of ANY size, but especially a large family, must sit down and weigh the pros and cons of their commitment to a football team that requires a lot of time, money and energy.

Questions we’re asking ourselves:

  1. Is our son so blessed by this experience that we can’t imagine removing him from this activity?
  2. Is this a ministry that makes it worth our sacrifice?
  3. Does our family even enjoy it?
  4. Can we see ourselves participating in this year after year?

I can’t answer yes to a single question I’ve listed.  It’s difficult.  Nolan does like it.  And we’re a homeschooling family, which means our options for football are pretty limited.

I feel a hard conversation coming on with him.  We know that he also excels in and enjoys soccer (which requires a much less rigid commitment), so we may talk about that as a possibility for him in the future.  And we know he realizes how much this sport is affecting our family.  We see him rethinking whether or not he should pursue this again as he looks around at the disorder in our home that results from so many hours spent focused on this one thing.

More thoughts:

Why should one child be limited in their choices just because they’re a part of a large family?  It’s not their fault.

That child may very well be limited, but there ARE other options, and in being a part of a large family, they’re learning the best teamwork of all.  They’re also learning selflessness, understanding, and about PRIORITIES.

What if we’re standing in the way of a life dream of one of our children by preventing them from participating in team sports?

BALONEY!  We teach our children to pray and seek God’s will for their lives and if they felt they were called/destined for pro-football, then nothing could stand in their way.  Not even us.  And if they really felt that way, we could/would find a way to make it work.  That would be a different situation.  We’re talking about a choice in athletics here.

What else can he do for fitness?

Basketball, soccer, baseball (maybe), ANYTHING else that’s local and not an insane commitment.

I think it’s important for families to remember to take a good, long, hard look at their family mission statement before deciding that they can and should commit to football for kids.  And if strong family values like integrity and home are important to you, and if you believe in teaching your sons to be the leaders in their homes and not just on the fields, then maybe football isn’t for them (or your family).

Because I honestly don’t believe it’s for us.

What do you think?  What’s more important to you – dinner as a family every night, in a cozy, orderly home, or being at football practice on time, most weeknights, for a few months out of the year?



  1. Sounds crazy busy!! Not something I would like for my family. My boys play soccer which is 2 practices a week plus 1 game on the weekend and I will be glad when it’s over 🙂 I love watching them play and love that they love to play but it can be too much at times. Especially when it’s just me since Dad is normally working during the week.

  2. Oh man, this is a tough topic. Thanks for addressing it! I feel major mama guilt when I can’t do certain activities with my oldest. Why?? Because as a kid, I feel like I got to do everything! I had only one brother and that left a lot of time/resources for my parents to do whatever I wanted to do.

    Now, my son wants to try wrestling, and I just don’t see how I could possibly do it. Little league baseball was a major stretch for us!

    My husband loves football! I am scared about my boys getting older! The league starts next year.

    What does your husband have to say about this?

    We are thinking of joining a gym where we can all work out together. They have pick-up games for volleyball and basketball as well as a climbing wall and pool. Isn’t this enough fitness?

    Sometimes I think about my neat relatives who live on a farm. They do tons of sports…but only the ones that are offered at their little rural school. They focus on the sports that they have. Whereas with us, as homeschoolers in a big valley, we have a huge area full of options. There are almost too many! It is stressful.

    I’m thinking of trying running club because the races are near us. Can’t a family ‘bloom where they are planted’ and make the most of what they have nearby?

    These are things that are running through my head. Sorry so wordy…

  3. Christy Callaway says:

    I feel like I could have written that post! I am dealing with the same exact things right now. We have a 15, 12, 6, a 4 yr old and one on the way. My 15 yr old plays basketball for a homeschool league that is 45 min. away and they practice 4 days a week, not to mention games, etc. My 12 yr old does competitive gymnastics four days a wk for four hrs. My 6 yr old does dance one evening a wk for an hr which doesn’t really bother me. I keep praying about this. I feel like these sports are dividing our family. We just started homeschooling this year and a big reason was b/c we never saw our kids. They LOVE their sports but I’m just not sure we should be doing it to this degree. We did decide last week to have my 12yr old sit out competitions this year and go one less day a wk but if my son is to play basketball there are no other homeschool teams. Lots of things running through my head too! I do this alone most of the time too b/c my husband works two hrs away so he’s gone a lot. I can’t see doing this with a new baby!

  4. We’re not at that stage of life yet as our oldest is only 9, and really there’s just not that much emphasis put on those kinds of things around us. However, if this causes so much frustration and worry it doesn’t seem worth it to me. After reading your post, Brandy, and reading the other comments, I would have to say that it seems like you all have your answer already. I know if I were being pulled in that many directions all the time I wouldn’t be able to have a meek and quiet spirit (not that I do all the time now!) 😉

    So yes it’s true that I do NOT speak from experience on this matter, and honestly I normally wouldn’t even comment on a post like this one since I don’t have that experience. But for some reason it just weighed heavy on my heart!

    I’m praying now (as I type this) that all of you have the peace of God to be able to make the right decision for your families!

  5. We ourselves had this same conversation a few years ago. We loved football, but it just took such a toll on our family life that we prayed and decided it wasn’t worth it. Our son was really good, which makes it so much harder to say “no” when you see such a natural athlete. I still think it would be fun to get back into it, but he’s only 8. There is plenty of time if this is what God has in store for him. He will give a child the skills and ability if that is his plan when the time comes…they don’t have to start at 5 to be good or great when they are high school age. 🙂 That was the lesson we needed to learn. We short change the Lord when it comes to His ability. I think you are very smart to have this discovery now, instead of later. Plus, we find that our son enjoys playing football in the backyard with his brother just as much as playing on a team.

    Love your blog btw! 🙂

  6. We are at that stage we have six boys and only 2 are involved in sports. It is over in 3 wks and I could not be happier. It takes a lot out of a person and since dad is gone its even harder. We will be sitting out next season. I wanted my oldest who is 17 to enjoy it as this his last year of high school. Luckily only one other kid has shown interest but since we have another cross country move. We luckily will not have to deal with sports for at least a year.

  7. Amen! It takes courage to go against our culture today.

    Two summers ago, we had five kids on five different ball teams. By the end of summer, my husband said, “This is not what I signed up for in regards to marriage and family.” So he proposed that the kids not be involved in any summer sports. Being a college athlete myself, I knew I could not hold the kids to it because I like my sports! However, I told him I would support his idea but he would have to lead the family meeting. The kids all agreed to give it a go. Needless to say, this past summer was delightful. No practices, no games. We had a fun, relaxing summer and shared dinner together!

    I’m noticing that I have a tendency to resent what the “sport” culture has done and is doing to families. The question that keeps coming to mind is what is it all for? My challenge is keeping a balance between it all…. physical, mental, spiritual, and intellectual.

    • Oh, Marilee, you hit the nail on the head. What is it all for? That is the right question to ask. It’s where I’ve found myself a lot lately. Thanks for your comment.

  8. Thanks so much for addressing this serious problem…we have 12 children who are all very competitive and my seven boys are very athletic. We have a couple of rules that help tame this problem.

    1. Must be age 9/10 before playing on a game team. (we have let them play on a group activity that involves many of our kids that is mostly for fun…no uniforms, no games…just skills and fun…all on the same field and the same time) We have early dinners and early bedtime so we can sometimes squeeze in dinner before practice then home for showers and bed.

    2. We try to find teams that more than one kid can play on…so many of our boys have played up…so finding a coach who is flexible is key…(btw…those boys who play up become the best players!)

    3. No travel teams or expensive tournament teams with traveling far away with hotel accommodations.

    4. If a coach really wants one of my kids…they find a ride to and from practice and games…this happened with my son who was a great goalie…the coach wanted him so bad that he came and drove him to every practice and most games.

    5. The kids have to realize that we just can’t be at every game…and if it is too hard to understand than they can wait to play another sport or on a different team. (they always deal with it)

    6. I usually ask the coach about commitments prior to team…explain our family dynamic and if they are still on the phone…we try to work something out…like if we have church activities during practice and game time…God Comes First!

    7. I always ask for a team list or send an email with our address to see if anyone lives near us to carpool…most of the time I can help another parent who is stuck to and then we have two happy families!

    8. We only do a couple of seasons of sports…most of the time it is fall soccer…no winter…really relaxed tennis lesson/tennis team and swim lessons in the summer…spring we are flexible if we find a low committed team. We are very blessed to live in an awesome neighborhood with sports going on everyday.

    This is a constant battle and one to take to prayer with your spouse. Many of my friends husbands would die if their kids weren’t doing a sport each season…more power to them…no way in our family!!!

  9. I agree with family being the most important! I am a mother of 7 and I agree with dinner and family time around the table and just having down time together! We have several kids in different sports and we homeschool as well. I sometimes feel like we live in our car! Thank you so much for your blog! It is very helpful!

  10. We are a family of 9 and our oldest 3 girls are involved in competitive fast pitch softball. They also play basketball. My husband is also the director of our church’s rec league teams. I certainly agree with the issues that any activity outside the home can cause, whether it be sports, music lessons, play dates, etc, etc. The busyness can most certainly be overwhelming sometimes. However, having said that…I think it’s important to not just weigh what is good for our own families but prayerfully consider why God put sports (or whatever other activity) in your life. In our case, we are prayerful and extremely careful with our team choices and time commitments, though We feel that God uses sports in our life and the talents our children possess to minister to others. We have had so many opportunities to build relationships with other parents & players, to the point where they have visited church with us and asked questions about our faith. And i have excitedly watched my children invite teammates to church. Our children know that we are on this earth to first and foremost…glorify God. We are commanded to do this during work and play. For our family, sports (as my husband and I were college athletes ourselves) are, at this point in our lives, a family ministry, not just an indulgence for our Children (or ourselves). We believe God gives us talents to be used for His glory, though I pray continually that if sports become a hinderence to our Kingdom work…God gently remove them from our lives. But for now, we will prayerfully continue using our time with sports as a ministry and continue to minister and serve those He has put in our sporting paths :-). Many blessings to each of you and your families! Romans 8:28

Share Your Thoughts