What not to ask your kids on the way home from a game

Radio interviews and shareable content from Overplayed: A Parent’s Guide to Sanity in the World of Youth Sports.

In 2012 I interviewed Dave King, athletics director at Eastern Mennonite University for a radio program I helped produce at the time, Shaping Families. I had read/heard about Dave’s thoughts on:

  • Challenging the status quo regarding sports travel teams for very young kids
  • The dangers of playing one sport year round
  • The dilemma travel teams pose for families as many kids are pulled out of Sunday morning worship and Sunday school.

Dave had so much to say we made two 15-minute radio programs out of his interview and he was just getting started (you can hear or read transcripts below).
Sports and Your Child.
Sports, Families & Faith.

King_Dave_RGBAfter the interview I encouraged him to work on a book. He confessed that yes, he would love to, but his “day job” kept him pretty busy. And while he loves to talk to groups and churches on the topic of “youth sports and families”—he has done so much research and reading and hearing from parents— it was kind of overwhelming to think in terms of how do you put all that into a book? Ok, so athletics directors don’t sit down and write books every day, at least not until they retire.

Eventually our editorial director Amy Gingerich and managing editor Valerie Weaver-Zercher proposed Dave work with a co-writer, Margot Starbuck, who herself is parentingStarbuck_Margot_RGB kids through this phase and has an awesome track record in writing, editing and even ghostwriting. She finally helped make it happen!

The two have produced what we hope is a home run—touch down—winning basket, pick your metaphor: Overplayed: A Parent’s Guide to Sanity in the World of Youth Sports.


Along with lots of facts, research, stories, and personal examples in the book, the authors provide some quick “lists” that you are free to copy and share anywhere you want to let people know about the book! Share these with your friends on Facebook or elsewhere (and include the credit line with link to the book).

5 Worst Questions to Discuss on the Way Home From the Game

  1. Who won? Why didn’t you win?
  2. Did you score? Why didn’t you score?
  3. Why were your teammates so bad?
  4. Why didn’t the coach play you more?
  5. What was wrong with the ref?

Dave King & Margot Starbucks in Overplayed: A Parent’s Guide to Sanity in the World of Youth Sports,  free chapter download here

8 Best Questions to Discuss on the Way Home From the Game

  1. How did the game go?
  2. Did you have a good time today?
  3. Did you learn anything new today?
  4. What was the best part of the experience for you?
  5. What do you think will happen in practice this week?
  6. Did anything happen that made you feel bad?
  7. What do you think the team needs to do to improve?
  8. What did you notice a friend doing that helped the team?

Dave King & Margot Starbucks in Overplayed: A Parent’s Guide to Sanity in the World of Youth Sports,  free chapter download here

What Does Your Family Value?

In the hustle and bustle of family life, we aren’t always purposeful about articulating what we value. Here are a few questions to help your family identify your “family values.” (Discuss these first before applying them to sports.)

  1. What do we want to be doing with our money?
  2. What do we want to be doing with our time?
  3. What relationships are most important for us to honor?
  4. What are three to five values we want to name as being important to us?

Tip: Identifying your family’s values in advance gives you tools for decision making about athletic commitments and other types of activities.

Dave King & Margot Starbucks in Overplayed: A Parent’s Guide to Sanity in the World of Youth Sports,  free chapter download here


Other important info on this book to check out:


What has your experience been with children, sports, other parents involved with sports, coaches? 


Have your kids participated in travel teams? We’d love to hear your comments and stories here on Dave and Margot’s blog.

_MG_5205_Burton_Melodie_RecordingMelodie Davis
News, managing editor & former radio producer/co-host


College athletics director and sports mom co-authors bust myths about youth sports in new book

Overplayed: A Parent’s Guide to Sanity in the World of Youth Sports

Overplayed_RGBFebruary 18, 2016

News release

Parents don’t owe their kids every opportunity nor should they attend every one of their kid’s games—and that’s just for starters

College athletics director and sports mom co-authors bust myths about youth sports in new book

HARRISONBURG, Va., and KITCHENER, Ont.—College athletics director David King and award-winning author Margot Starbuck, a mom of three teens who play volleyball, basketball, soccer, and baseball, team up to reclaim youth sports from the questionable culture that has grown up around it. They advocate the kinds of sports experiences that can positively shape kids’ lives in their new book, Overplayed: A Parent’s Guide to Sanity in the World of Youth Sports (Herald Press, $15.99 paperback, April 5, 2016).

“The most important thing in the development of a child’s mind, body, soul, and spirit is not whether she plays for her high school’s lacrosse team,” they write. “Like you, we see the long game. We care who children will be when they’re thirty, forty, and fifty years old.”

One of the basic myths they debunk is that there’s no harm in participating in youth sports. While both King and Starbuck believe that participating in sports offers many benefits to kids, they are alarmed by what happens in today’s youth sports culture: overuse injuries, burnout, loss of childhood, misperceptions about the true benefit of sport, and damaged relationships.

They offer practical tips for parents who long to balance their children’s athletic activities with family life, and who wish to nurture their children’s values and faith. Christian parents especially, “who pattern their lives after a guy who taught that we find our lives by losing them, don’t need to be anxious that [their] children get ahead of others,” they write.

In Overplayed, King and Starbuck debunk seven myths about youth sports—ideas that have circulated so long and with such frequency that many of us don’t question them. These myths include:

Myth: Because we owe our children every opportunity, we can’t say no to sports

“Parents don’t owe children any particular experience of youth sports. What we do owe them is a space to discover who they are and who they’re becoming. Sometimes that happens in the backyard and sometimes it happens in organized sports,” they write. “As you consider the kinds of sports opportunities you do or don’t owe your child, weigh the money, time, physical risk, emotional risk, efficacy of early involvement, and relational implications.”

Myth: My child should specialize in one sport

Early specialization, a function of chasing college scholarships, has resulted in increasing rates of injury. Being a multisport athlete reduces the chance of injury and provides benefits that kids don’t otherwise get when they focus on one sport.

Myth: Youth sports instills our family’s values

While sports can help develop worthy values such as self-awareness, socialization, commitment, and character, a child’s experience of sports may also ingrain negative values such as de-emphasis of quality family time, detachment from faith community, endorsement of the macho ideal, demonstration of poor behavior, and economic disparity.

Myth: Good parents attend all their children’s games

Parental involvement in and constant parental presence at kids’ sports activities has achieved epic, and problematic, proportions, the authors say—not only because “parents are nutty.” “Being constantly present to our children at practices, scrimmages, and games is predicated on the faulty assumption that our presence is what’s best for them. That’s simply not the case,” they maintain.

Myth: The money we are investing into youth sports will pay off

Many parents invest in sports activities, including private coaching and elite travel teams, in hopes that their children will achieve the holy grail of youth sports: a college scholarship. The reality is that very few kids do. “The kinds of athletes who earn a full ride to college are, and we mean this in the best possible way, freaks of nature,” the authors write. “They possess truly extraordinary physical capabilities, from the acuity of their vision to the agility of their bodies.”

King and Starbuck urge parents to allow their foundational values to inform decisions about their children and sports: “Sports themselves are neither good nor bad. It is up to us to decide whether we’ll use sports or be used by them.”

In Overplayed, the authors help parents learn how to set good boundaries and to help kids gain healthy identities—both on and off the field, and whether they win or lose. The book is filled with practical tips and resources, as well as ideas for kick-starting conversations with kids, other parents, and coaches.

David King is director of athletics at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

He has given presentations and sermons on the topic at churches, denominational assemblies, and conferences. King has a master’s degree in educational administration from Temple University and has taught and coached at all levels. He and his wife, Deb, have three adult children and two grandchildren.

Margot Starbuck is the author of six books, including the award-winning Girl in the Orange Dress. She is a widely sought-after speaker and columnist at Today’s Christian Woman and is an editorial advisor for Gifted for Leadership. A graduate of Westmont College and Princeton Seminary, Starbuck is the mother of three children and lives in Durham, North Carolina.

A study guide will be available along with the book when it releases on March 8th. One free chapter download of the book is available at: http://www.heraldpress.com/titles/Overplayed/

–Kelly Hughes, publicist: kelly@dechanthughes.com
High resolution photo available.

For more information on this press release:
Melodie Davis
News manager


Online bonus: We’ve produced several shareable graphics below that you are free and encouraged to copy and share on your own social media pages whether Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter. A new one will be added to our MennoMedia Facebook page each Wednesday for several weeks–look for more there!

Overplayed_meme4 Overplayed_meme1

High resolution photo available.

For more information on this press release:
Melodie Davis
News manager

Going home hungry: A summer editorial intern spills all

Kendra Litwiller of Hopedale, Illinois, spent May through July 2013 as an editorial intern at MennoMedia. Kendra is a rising senior at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va., majoring in English with minors in Writing and Art. She is a member of Hopedale Mennonite Church.


Everyone knows that dinner follows work, for most people. You leave work and start thinking about what you will make. Chicken? Enchiladas? Chicken enchiladas? It’s most likely a given that there is food in your fridge and probably a family waiting to eat, hungry.

chicken enchiladas

Chicken enchiladas from Mennonite Girls Can Cook blog, used by permission.

While working as an editorial intern for the past few months at MennoMedia, I went home hungry nearly every night. Keeping information up-to-date is an essential step in maintaining fresh materials, and this is no different for the staff at MennoMedia. This summer, updates were necessary on both Extending the Table and Simply in Season, and I had the pleasure of taking both of these cookbooks in my hands to help with the changes.

Het Fang Sai Khaai

One recipe from the forthcoming revised Extending the Table cookbook,
a Thai egg/rice dish called Het Fang Sai Khaai

Hence, I was working with recipes for extended periods of time, all the while thinking, Oh, that sounds good. Recipes like Apple Spice Waffles, Fresh Summer Salsa, and Rhubarb Sorrel Crisp made my mouth water. By the end of a day, my stomach would be emitting growls that could compete with bears’, and my mind would be racking itself to remember if I already had ingredients to try something I had seen that day.


But more than the gnawing hunger pangs, I left each day with a desire to know more.  Whether this resulted from searching for an article about peace to post to Third Way Café, reading endorsements for Shirley Showalter’s upcoming book, Blush, or editing worship resources for Mennonite Church USA’s Women in Leadership Project, I was constantly aware that I was doing work that I loved but knew little about its technical details. Working with Melodie Davis and the rest of the editorial staff gave me the opportunity to put the skills I have to use in a new setting, and at the same time learn more about the role that editors play in making a company like MennoMedia a success.

When I started work at MennoMedia in May, the staff was in the beginning stages of renovating their Third Way Café website. Part of our discussions centered on the purpose of the website as a source of information on Anabaptists, who was important to reach, and why. After hearing others’ thoughts, I often left with my mind not only on the website and its purpose but on my own work and how it will affect people. My time at MennoMedia left me hungry to know how I can use my talents to provide people with great literature while enhancing their Christian lives. I left each day not only ready to try my hand at some tasty new recipes but eager to implement the knowledge I have gleaned while working this summer.

Kendra Litwiller


You can help support MennoMedia’s work through your gifts, purchases, and encouraging your congregation to use curricula from this publisher for two denominations, Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada.