Sports are a form of religion for many modern men. Millions of American men invest more time, money, thought and enthusiasm into their Fantasy Football Leagues than they invest into their marriages. Countless women have written in to my wife Ashley and me asking questions and trying to understand why their husband seems more interested in in sports stats than their own home life.
I’m a sports fan, and I certainly don’t see anything wrong with cheering on your favorite teams, but there seems to be a lack of balance that’s creating home tensions for many families. I certainly don’t want to generalize because I know women like sports too and I also know many men don’t have any interest in sports, BUT this is a phenomenon that is impacting MANY marriages so it’s one I feel compelled to address specifically as it relates to men and sports. (Some of these same principles hold true for men with other male-dominated hobbies such as VIDEO GAMES.)
First off, a quick message to MEN…It’s fine to have hobbies, but please NEVER let your hobbies become a greater passion or pursuit than your families. When we reach our deathbeds someday, we’re not going to care at all about our Fantasy League stats. Our kids’ primary memories of us should never be that we were always staring at a screen or cheering for people we’ll never meet in person while neglecting the people who actually matter most. All that will matter to us at the end will be our faith and our families, so let’s not wait until then to make them our top priority!
Jesus taught, “Where your treasure is, your heart will be also.” If we are giving the best of our energies to our hobbies, our hearts will be with our hobbies. If we’re giving the best of ourselves to our careers, our hearts will be with our work. If we’re giving the best of ourselves to our families (as we should), our hearts will be at home where they belong.
Now, for the ladies, I want to give you some insight into the typical male thought process. Here are the primary reasons why men gravitate to sports, video games and other male-dominated interests and also why they may not be as enthusiastic about relationship issues. For more on this, you can check out my popular post on Nine things your husband is always thinking about. The point of this whole post isn’t to start arguments or debates, but rather, to start some healthy dialogues between husbands and wives that will lead to stronger marriages and more focused priorities.
Three reasons why many men are drawn to sports…
1. Men want success to be MEASURABLE.
Most men gravitate to careers or hobbies where success is measurable with actual dollars, actual points or real wins and losses. There’s a “scoreboard” and clearly defined boundaries and rules that everyone involved is playing by. Sports provides this clearly-defined framework of measurability, while by contrast, most men don’t feel the same clarity in relationships. They can be freaked out by “feelings,” because they often perceive feelings to be any enemy of logic and an immeasurable mystery (again, these are generalizations and not the rule for all men or all relationships). The truth is that a marriage does have clearly-defined and measurable principles guiding it and there are many ways to WIN together. I talk much more about this in my new book The Seven Laws of Love: Essential Principles for Building Stronger Relationships.
2. Sports provides some ADVENTURE because of unexpected outcomes.
Many men feel that most aspects of life (at home, at work, etc.) is predictable and routine. The adventurous side of him longs for surprise and unexpected plot twists happening in real-time. This connects with men’s desire for strategy and competition. That’s one reason men are drawn to sports, but also are much less likely to watch a whole game when they already know the outcome (on DVR, etc.). There’s nothing wrong with desiring some adventure and a break from the routine, but we as men should be investing much more time to bringing unexpected adventures to our marriages so we can share those experiences with our wives.
3. Sports connects him into a BROTHERHOOD with other men.
Men have a desire for belonging and connection with other men. Being fans of a certain team or part of a certain Fantasy League creates a fraternity of sorts and provides the feeling of being part of a Band of Brothers. It also helps with most men’s insecurities related to not knowing what to talk about in conversations with other men (have you noticed that most men use sports to start conversations with each other?). Guys, sports can be a great doorway towards meaningful friendships with other guys, but let’s never let our commitment to our buddies surpass our commitment to our wives and families. Even with those relationships with the guys, let’s not settle for only having sports conversations, but let’s move to a place of deeper friendships where we can also open up about the things that matter most (which have nothing to do with our favorite teams).
For more ways to build stronger faith, family and friendships, check out my brand new book The Seven Laws of Love: Essential Principles for Building Stronger Relationships and you can also connect with me on Facebook for daily encouragement.
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