hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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May 16, 2013

What will it be -- sports or church?

It wasn’t so much his son’s wrestling prowess that overwhelmed the father. Winning more than 50 matches in one high school season is commendable for any athlete.

Nor was it the many football accolades his son received as a star lineman and the scholarship offers that have come his way.

All well and good for any family of a gifted athlete.

The proudest moment, however, had nothing to do with sports and the many newspaper articles that proclaimed his success. None of it could have replaced that moment in church when father and son stood in a pew and recited The Lord’s Prayer together.

“All those years in Sunday School seem to have paid off,” the father rejoiced. “We stood together and prayed. It brought a tear to my eye.”

At a time when church schools are being decimated by sports activities and other “outside” commitments, here’s a family that appears to have struck a happy medium.

“Equal time,” I told my children.

There’s enough pressure on these kids for Sunday games without adding more fuel to the fire. I realize they have commitments. But let’s not forget our spiritual obligations.

I remember my own boys when they were going through the youth hockey ranks. It got to be a weekly debate inside our family. What would it be this Sunday? Church or sports?

If they had their way, they would have never seen the inside of a sanctuary. And neither would I, since I was the self-imposed chauffeur. Hitting the road for a 6 a.m. face-off an hour away was not my idea of how to begin a Sunday morning.

In some ways, it worked better than a 9 or 10 a.m. start, which allowed no time to hustle out the rink and bolt to church. Both my boys were acolytes and required to assist a priest on the altar. Either be there for the start or cause an embarrassment by being late.

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