I have spent years in the bleachers cheering for my boys while they played basketball. I know most gyms in Alaska and western Missouri by heart. This week my experience as a basketball parent came to an end as my youngest played his last high school game.
At times like these, there are so many things that go through my mind. While I have frequently written about merely enjoying the game, this year I want to add a second thought: Don’t build your kid’s nor your life on sports.
This season has been unique. Our football team did well, and their season went long, so we canceled a couple of games before the season began. Then we had an extended holiday with the way that Christmas and New Year fell. Next, we had two weeks off because of Covid. A coach came down with it, and the team went into quarantine. Finally, the season ended with an eight-day shutdown for the weather. Altogether the team canceled multiple games; they did not make up. It was a stop and started the season that saw the team play more games than they had practices and the results were not what we hoped. A fifty-percent winning season with third fewer games is not what anyone had in mind.
For my son, Gage, and the Harris family, it was disappointing but not spirit-crushing. This is because my son’s identity is not wrapped up in sports. Gage is our son, a brother to three young men, a friend to one, and a Christian in a Church family. He just happens to enjoy playing basketball. His life, along with the rest of our family, has never been about sports only. He has not played any travel ball, special tournaments, or invested numerous hours into practices. He has enjoyed playing, and I am sure he will miss high school sports as all people do. But his spirit is not crushed, and his life is not over.
I tell you this not just because I am proud of my son but as a warning. Life is going to throw you curveballs. A little illness and some bad weather should not make anyone question their self-worth and meaning in life. Life should never be built on sports because it will one day let you down. Help every teen to know that their life has infinite value and worth because they are made in the image of God, and he sent his son to redeem them. A life built on solid values will endure some setbacks and changes without being devastated. I am proud of my son, and I hope other kids will find meaning beyond the court.