On the heels of my post from last week, I offer this link to a Chicago Tribune story that raises serious questions about the ranking of twelve-year-old athletes. Here’s a sampling:
“Shaon Berry believes he has seen the future of football, and to demonstrate, he clicks a key on his computer. Up pops a video showing a 14-year-old receiver so large that he dwarfs his fellow players, so fast that he leaves a swarm of smaller boys in his wake. Even as an 8th grader, the youth appears destined for big things on the gridiron.
But Berry said even good athletes like this one could later be overlooked by college programs, so he is about to launch a service to help players get an early edge: For $79, he and his staff will rate 7th-, 8th- and 9th-grade football players and feature them on a Web site for anyone, including recruiters, to check out.”
It is true that athletes can get overlooked by colleges. That’s a valid point. It’s no bad thing for kids to play sports, even at a pretty competitive level, especially with close parental oversight. But website rankings for twelve-year-olds? That’s ludicrous. Christians will have to use discretion in their involvement with youth sports, but they should flat out avoid all kinds of silliness like that above, staying aware of its harmful effects.
Honestly, the “common sense” factor will help greatly here. Parents need to take counsel from their pastors and elders, who need to teach in some form on matters like this. Few parents are tempted to overinvolve their children in strange pagan rituals; many are tempted to overinvolve their children in youth sports in contemporary America. Pastors and church leaders need to know this and reference it in their preaching and teaching.