Should You Play Sports?

I read an interesting article recently that pointed out some troubling facts about the role sports is playing in many of our lives. For many of young women, soccerinvolvement in sports or other after-school activities may be in the driver’s seat, and they’re not taking you to a destination you should want to go.

Check it out:

  • The pastors of sixteen churches where attendance was dropping said that kids in sports was the number one reason why less people were coming to church.
  • More than one third of churchgoers in a separate study said that school- and sports-related activities were "quite a bit of an issue" when considering their church attendance.
  • Of those who only attend church a couple of times a year, more than two-thirds said they were too busy with other things, naming school- and sports-related activities as the biggest competitor for church attendance.

In other words, lots of people are going to church less so they can play sports more.

Why does that matter?

Church is more than just a building. It’s more than a place to hear a good sermon or sing a few worship songs. Church is the place where we are discipled to be more like Christ, where we ask for accountability from other Christians, where we can serve others often. For Christians, church shouldn’t be optional.

And yet, for many of us a busy schedule tends to push church down on the list of priorities. And church attendance isn’t the only place we see a flag on the play. I don’t have an article full of stats to back this up, but my time with teenage girls tells me that busyness also makes it hard to do some of the other essentials of the Christian life such as prayer and Bible study.

I’m not saying that sports are bad. It is possible to be an athlete and have a strong faith. I’m not claiming that the Bible says that when it comes to sports all Christians must sit the bench. But I would like us all to think through what we are really gaining through all of those practices, games, and tournaments.

If you’re involved in sports, it’s likely that you do it for the love of the game or as a way to get involved in what’s happening in your school. No problem there, but it is wise to ask yourself if being involved in sports or other extracurricular activities is pulling you away from something more important and kingdom-focused.

In Matthew 6:33, Jesus gave this simple advice:

"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

Kingdom priorities are to be our top priority. Anything that competes for seeking God and His kingdom first simply isn’t worth it.

With that in mind, I’d like you to think through the questions below. Leave us a comment with your answers.

  • Does my participation in sports make it hard for me to be regularly involved in church and youth group?
  • Does my practice and game schedule for sports make me feel too tired to pray and read my Bible on a regular basis?
  • Judging by my schedule, what am I putting first—God’s kingdom or my activities?