Lately, I have been talking with some different men in our church about the "pros and cons" of coaching our kid’s sports teams. Some guys enjoyed growing up with their dad coaching them and it was a very positive experience. They want the same for their kids now. Others never had their dad coach them and they are thankful that was the case. These guys also want to support their kids but would rather be an encouragement from the stands rather than the bench.
So, which is better? To coach or not to coach?
For years, I have had good friends on both sides of this one. For example, I have a very close friend who loves coaching his sons’ teams year-round. It is a great chance for him to spend extra time with his boys and to build relationships with other parents and kids. Because of this, he has a great ministry as a coach in his community.
At the same time, I have other close friends who have intentionally chosen not to coach their kid's sports for a variety of reasons. Whether because they are not huge athletes themselves, or they don’t have the flexibility with work, or simply because they would rather be a source of encouragement off the court or field than on it, these guys choose not to coach. I've watched as these men support their kids like crazy, while also building relationships and making a great impact on other parents and kids as a fan and supporter on the sidelines.
I know for myself personally, sports were a big part of my life growing up. Literally, from about the time I was in pre-school, through college, I played sports year-round. My dad never coached any team I was ever on. Not one. And yet my dad (and my mom) was always my biggest fan. To tell you the truth, for me, one of the greatest blessings was having a dad who did not coach me. Being a very competitive guy myself, my dad was always the soothing and comforting presence I needed through the many ups and downs of my athletic life. He continues to be to this day. When I would have a bad game or get chewed out by one of my coaches, it was always a blessing to come home to a dad who loved me and would encourage me no matter how I performed on the court.
All of this to say, the issue is really not whether you choose to coach or not coach your kids. It is the loving care and support you show them throughout their athletic journey, whether you are in the stands or on the bench.
Let’s face it, our kid’s sports careers are short. Even the most gifted of our kids, a very small percentage, will go on to play college athletics, let alone excel at the college level the way they did in high school. But the relationship that we form with them throughout their elementary, middle school, high school, college years, and beyond, this is what is most important. This is what will last. This is what will ultimately shape them over the long haul.
Let’s love our kids well. Let’s cheer them on and encourage them like crazy. But let’s also work hard to remember what is most important as Christian parents: helping our children grow to love God and love others more than they do sports. This is the counter-cultural mission God has given everyone of us trying to raise our kids in the way of Jesus.