Bobby, Sarah and I were out the door 6:30 a.m. Saturday to go to a soccer tournament in Hershey, PA. Hot days spent alternating between four soccer games and the long lines of Hershey Park. We got back 9:30 p.m. Sunday, grateful to be home; grateful also to those back at the church who carried on in the worship of God without me.
The games were held in a stadium attached to a private school founded by Milton Hershey for the explicit purpose of providing quality education for underprivileged children. The buildings and grounds of the school were amazing. It is good to hear of people who, having been blessed with enormous amounts of money, find significant ways to give back to the community. The same is true with Bill and Linda Gates in the way they have taken on the health and nutrition problems of Africa. There is a claim upon our lives to care for one another in this world, and those to whom much has been given, much is expected.
Apart for the pleasure I briefly experienced in the water rides on Sunday afternoon, the Amusement Park itself didn’t do much for me, however. Pay a great deal of money for the privilege of standing in forty five minute lines for a two minute ride. Inflated prices to quench thirst and hunger.
I have a memory of going to Sesame Park maybe fifteen years ago when may son Andrew was little. Late in the day in the loveliness of summer twilight the long lines disappeared and we slid down a waters slide in a tube together over and over and over again. Now that was a happy memory! Is it possible to design an amusement park that doesn’t have long lines? (Probably only by charging ticket prices that few but Bill Gates could afford.)
In modern America, the travel soccer team has become a primary social unit. It requires remarkable amounts of time not only from the players, but from the families of the players as well. Somebody should write a book about how to create a sense of community on a travel team. In the year that Bobby has been on this team, more often than not the absence of a sense of community has been stronger than its presence. In the course of the weekend there were moments that accentuated our failures in this regard, and others when we seemed to be taking a step forward. I brought along a collection of my percussion instruments, and as the boys were standing around waiting for the last game, I invited them to make rhythm together, and they seemed to enjoy it. When they went out on the field, I gave the same instruments to their parents and siblings and we made noise together whenever a goal or some other good thing happened. It has taken me a year as a parent on this team to try anything like this; to date this hasn’t been characteristic of my attempt to take initiative in community-making. But I am feeling some hope for the future of this team.
There are three things, it seems to me, to be gotten out of sports. The first is fun, the second is learning self-discipline towards achieving a goal, and the third is learning how to be a part of a team, which is another way of saying learning how to be a community-creator.
May we learn how to do so.