FAMILY: The Family That Plays Together...


This article originally appeared in Issue# 36

I remember family 'ball games' on summer Sunday afternoons. Not every Sunday, but once in a while we could talk my father into playing "baseball" with us. We used broken pieces of board for bases, had one bat to fit all sizes and never stopped hunting for the ball hit into the weeds — because we had only one ball! We also learned to catch barehanded.

In this atmosphere of family interaction, I learned to enjoy sports. I was a Yankee fan through high school and college. I braved the snow and rain to watch O.J. Simpson break football's rushing records. I accompanied my sister to numerous hockey games. And I think I've watched all the Super Bowls.

While watching games, however, I ask myself an important question: Do TV sports usurp or replace real family interaction? It's a question that should be pondered by any family whose members spend time gathered around the set for any sporting event. It's too easy to let TV sports move into the control seat — unless we make deliberate choices.

First of all, TV sports should not replace those family "ball games." If Sunday afternoons are the only time available for Mom or Dad to play with the family, then TV games are certainly second-best.

Next, how much has media sports taken over your sports awareness? Do you talk more about the professional games or your daughter's team? Do you move mealtime to fit the TV schedule? Would your youngsters say they rate way behind Monday Night Football in importance? Who are the family heroes?

Finally, in the big business of TV sports, we've lost many of the values we once associated with playing "ball." Being fair, playing ones best against odds, teamwork, developing many skills are values being shunted aside in the big-money spectaculars for TV. Charlie Brown is just about the only "good loser' we have left — unless we work to create some in our own families.

Author Bio: 

Margaret Foth wrote Your Time, a radio program for families sponsored by Mennonite Media Ministries, Harrisonburg, Virginia. She is the mother of four children. Since concluding the Your Time program, Margaret has worked as a mediator and trainer in conflict resolution skills and practice.