Monday, March 01, 2010

Boxing In The Sanctuary

Melanie, a woman who goes to my church, brought up the idea to me about running a boxing program for kids at church not long ago.  She said it probably wouldn't be too difficult to find used equipment for the kids to use.  But as Pastor Roger pointed out, the legal and insurance issues would be a challenge.  I'm aware that some churches have had successful boxing programs (as well as programs focusing on other sports).  While being in a sport is beneficial for most kids, a lot of things have to be considered.

There was a woman named Carla who used to attend the gym.  She's now married with a little one of her own.  I remember her saying that she would never let a child of hers participate in boxing.  "I'd think, 'I can't let my baby get hurt!'", she told me.  What the parents of the children would feel about such a program at church would definately be another consideration.  Some may object to what they see as the church promoting violence.  This also is one reason why Barry, the kids' coach, requires that the youths who are interested in boxing bring their parents to the gym.  He wants to make sure that the parents are comfortable with their children particpating in boxing.

The sport has to fit the kid, too.  In the movie, Girlfirght, the main character discovers that her brother does not want to take lessons at the neighborhood boxing gym.  He would rather develop his artistic skills, but their dad forces him to box.  It's a male ego/chauvinist thing where the dad is concerned.  Either a child likes the sport, or they don't.  They should not be pushed into one.  Also, if it is clear they don't have the talent for it, then they should try something else.  I would also be concerned about some kids at church feeling left out  if they could not participate.

As a coach, I'd also have to be mindful of kids utilizing their newfound boxing skills to bully others.  I've seen and been around adult boxers who take pleasure in bullying people in and out of the ring.  It's not pretty, and the adults should know better.  There are some good kids that attend Sunday services and/or the youth group at my church.  However, there are a few that would try the patience of Job.  Please don't tell me about "we should suffer the little children".  In my opinion, most adults use the "kids will be kids" line -- too many times -- to excuse away poor and inappropriate behavior out of those who are under eighteen years of age.  I have little patience for that type of stuff, and as old as I am, I'm not going to develop any. . . sorry, Charlie.  If I saw that a kid might ignore the concepts of teamwork, cooperation and sportsmanship, I'd probably weed them out of the program. 

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