Some of the most precious memories in our family revolve around sports.
It was my youngest DAUGHTER who got us all interested in football. Up until she was in 6th grade, we had never watched football on TV. She had a PE class at school with a football unit, and became devoted to the sport. She started watching the games and explaining the strategies and rules to us, and we got hooked. Now we love the game, and we have a lot of fun getting together with our daughter and her husband and other family members and cheering on our favorite teams.
She met her husband indirectly because of football. She went to see Remember the Titans (a football movie) when she was 14, and this cute boy was sitting in the theater. She introduced herself, and seven years later, they were married. When he came to ask us for permission to propose, he said, "I never thought I would meet a girl who loves football."
The other big sport in our family is figure skating. Just two weekends ago, we attended the Midwestern Sectionals of Synchronized Skating in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and spent 14 hours on Friday and 12 hours on Saturday sitting in the rink watching the competition. Is THAT fanatical enough for you?! And it was COLD in that rink (it was cold outside--below zero). :winter:
But oh, how we love the sport of synchronized skating! Our daughter is a coach, and had several teams in the competition. It was sure fun to look over at the entry gate and see her standing with her team and the other coaches.
Whenever she wasn't involved with her team responsibilities, she came and sat with us, and we enjoyed discussing all the teams and their programs and analyzing the scoring. Great, great fun.
And her sister, who was in California, called several times to ask how the competition was going. Our daughter's team won a medal, and that was very exciting (a team of seven-year-old little girls).
Our girls grew up in a skating rink. They started skating when they were 3 and 5, and spent at least an hour a day on the ice almost every day of their lives. Most days, they spent more than an hour. When they became part of the Chicago Jazz Synchronized Skating Teams (elite level Junior team), the girls spent 15-20 hours a week practicing with this great team.
We loved it all and would do it all again if we had the option of living our lives over. While our girls were practicing, we were right there in the bleachers. Although some parents go home, most sit in the stands and watch their kids and their friends.
Skating has been a part of our family for three generations (my parents were roller skaters), and I suspect that when my girls have children, there will be a fourth generation.
My husband skates almost every day--he has a dance partner that he commutes 2 hours once a week to practice with. He has passed six dance tests in the last year, and is hoping to one day pass his Gold Dance test. He's 52.
Skating never detracted from our service and devotion to Jesus. We did a lot of driving together as a family, and spent much of that time discussing deep spiritual subjects. One thing about this lifestyle is that we, the parents, became the primary spiritual educators of our children. (We weren't Catholic until our girls were grown up).
If you as a family choose not to get interested in sports, that's OK. But I wish that people would not criticize the passions of other families.
Someone above mentioned arts--our family is also very interested in the arts (my older daughter is a professional stage manager, and I play piano and do paying gigs). I know a lot of families who are very involved with some aspect of pet-raising (showing dogs or cats, raising angora rabbits and harvesting their wool, raising livestock on farms, etc.). I know families who are into camping or some other aspect of the outdoor life. I know families who are into gardening. I know families who are into politics. And I know families who are into charitable work.
There are so many different interests that families can get involved with, and God does not forbid any of it (except for the families who are into crime). I think we should all rejoice together and try to appreciate each other and encourage each other.
Of course things can get out-of-balance and children can be robbed of their childhood by parents who are desperately attempting to live vicariously through their children's successes. And of course a dad who shuts out his family to sit glazed-eyed in front of a TV to watch a team is being a very poor steward of his time.
But being "out of balance" isn't necessarily a bad thing. I believe that any elite athlete will be "out-of-balance" because everything they do, even their relaxation and sleep, has to support and maintain their elite fitness level and skills. But what's wrong with that? Many of the mothers on this board spend much of their time nursing a child (ecological nursing). Isn't that "out of balance?" Or how about the parents who devote the bulk of their time to home-schooling their children--isn't that "out-of-balance?" So what?! If that's what you are called to do, then do it with all your heart!
I think we have to be careful not to confuse "moderation" with "blandness."
In fact, God says in the Bible that we should do all things to the Glory of God. IMO, that's what's important. My girls knew that ice was the "breath of God" --see Job 37:10. They knew that they when they skated, they were demonstrating the greatness of God who gave them their bodies and the skill to do jumps and spins.