3 reasons why this unathletic mom loves sports

October 26, 2016

Sports is an interesting topic for me to write about since I’ve never played an inning, a down or a match. I've never been up to bat or down a break. Nevertheless, sports have always, in some way, been a part of my life.

1. A tradition to pass down

I grew up in the deep South where college football is king, and your allegiance begins at an early age. “Roll Tide!” has been a part of my vocabulary since I can remember and is still a reminder of my roots. This tradition has been passed on to our eight children. Although they have spent most of their lives in the beautiful Bluegrass, their football allegiance lies with the Crimson Tide. Our seven-year-old daughter proudly says her favorite color is crimson, not red.

The tradition we get to pass down in our family is one of the reasons, as a mom, that I love sports. Sinclair Ferguson once said in a talk, “We should tie many strings to our children.” This is one of the strings we have chosen to tie to ours. It is a part of our family identity. It's a part of who we are. It's part of being a “Prince.”

2. A team perspective

Something changed dramatically in my life 25 years ago that would transform the way I thought about sports forever. I met a young college baseball player named David Prince who I would later love, marry and have eight children with. He could have tolerated my sports ignorance, but instead, he brought me into his sports world. He told me about his favorite game, baseball. We watched games, we went to games, and he taught me to keep the baseball scorebook. He and his sports dad had a little fun at my expense along the way, making things up to see if I was gullible enough to believe them. So much so, that it took years for David to convince me that there really was such a thing as a balk in baseball.

But the point is, I began to see the value in sports, because it became something we shared in common. This knowledge was invaluable to me in the first years of marriage as he coached in high school and then a few years later as we began to have children. I got to see a side of sports I had never really considered; the preparation, the training, the strategy, the time spent, the relationships fostered, the sacrifice, the passing along of something—all of these are aspects of a team. A team is a group of people working for a common goal who are willing to use 100 percent of their talents to sacrifice for that common goal. This sounds a lot like a marriage, family and the church.

As our family began to grow and our boys started playing sports (our three oldest are boys), we found ourselves at the ballpark a lot. This was a new experience for me, not having grown up playing sports. To be truthful, I was a little overwhelmed. I didn't realize that people actually did this. It takes a lot of time and commitment. There are game days and practices—lots of practices. Trying to get red clay out of those white baseball pants still gives me nightmares. I really had no idea what I was getting into when our children started playing sports.

3. A platform for training

After the shock wore off, and going to the ballpark became a part of the rhythm of our lives, I began to understand another aspect of sports. Sometimes my children will fail, in fact, they will fail a lot. They will fail in front of others. They will be vulnerable. And on occasion, they will succeed. Sometimes they will get hurt, sometimes they will get out, sometimes the referee will get the call wrong, sometimes they'll get into a slump, sometimes they'll turn a 6-4-3 double play, sometimes they'll hit a homerun and sometimes they'll get hit by a pitch.

All kinds of scenarios happen on the field, and how they respond to them reveals something about their character. Win or lose, success or failure, these things reveal character and provide ample opportunity for training our kids. Many talk of sports building character, and that is true, inasmuch as when a character trait is revealed, it is either encouraged or discouraged. Sports do not just build good character automatically, but they do provide fertile ground in revealing it and cultivating it in the right direction for parents who are intentional.

As I consider this, a few memories come to mind. Like the time our youngest son was in a T-ball game and got hit right in the nose with a baseball that took a bad hop when he was fielding it. His nose immediately started pouring blood. But how did he respond? He cried a little first, but he got self-control, his dad helped to stop the bleeding, and then he went right back out and played first base. In fact, he got the next out on a tough play when the ball was hit to him. What did this reveal? Courage, toughness and tenacity. These are traits we want him to have. He was put into a situation that revealed what was in his heart. In this case it was good. He asked, and was allowed to proudly wear that bloody shirt the rest of the day—his reward!

They are not all good memories though. There was the time our daughter was losing a tennis match. Her body language and demeanor were horrible. She basically stopped trying. What did this reveal? Self-pity and cowardice. After that, we knew what to work on.

There are so many opportunities in sports competition to see character revealed. The way our kids treat teammates and opponents. The way they act on and off the field or court. The way they lose or the way they win. There's also the way they support one another when they are not playing or when they sit on the bench. The way they respond to coaching, umpires and referees. There are so many examples and opportunities sports have provided us to be able to shape their character and point them to the gospel.

One thing I've learned at this stage of life, now that we have grown children out of the home and six children still at home, is that you should use every teachable moment—and almost every moment is teachable. Every at-bat, game, match, service point, conversation in the car, vacation, homework assignment and dinner around the table is important. It's true, they do grow up fast. So spend all the time with them you can. Give them a sense of tradition, of rootedness. Teach them what it means to be a good teammate. Look for opportunities that reveal their character, and train them toward godliness. And, if sports can help you do so, like it has us, then by all means, this unathletic mom says, “Let’s play ball!”

Judi H. Prince

Judi H. Prince is married to pastor David E. Prince, an active member of Ashland Avenue Baptist Church, and is a stay-at-home mom of eight children. Her husband,  David, is the author of the book In the Arena: The Promise of Sports for Christian Discipleship. Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

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We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24