This has become a very interesting topic for me, because I love sports; but almost all of my Christian friends aren’t interested at all in sports. Most of them think it’s a waste of time, and some could give you a speech as to why it’s evil. To put some structure to this post let me present the following three questions:
1. Why do some people hate sports and others can’t get enough of sports? When I was very young, about five or six, I remember having to watch the football and baseball games on TV that my uncle was watching. He loved to watch them, but I hated it! When I got older and began getting involved in sports—wrestling, track, swimming, basketball, baseball, and football—I not only liked participating in sports, I liked watching the games—live and on TV. The whole point of telling you my story is this: I believe we will come to like what we get involved in, what we come to understand, and what we excel in. People who hate sports usually don’t understand the games, haven’t played the games, and of course they haven’t had the opportunity to excel in the games. And the opposite is true for those who love sports. They love sports because it is something they are a part of. And if they have been fortunate to win (by being gifted and by hard work) this of course is the main reason why they have come to really love sports (or any particular sport).
2. Why do some people have such an extreme against sports—that they think it is an entire waste of time and even evil? I welcome your thoughts to this, but I think it is mainly because they have never been involved in sports, they don’t understand the games, and consequently they have no experience of winning at the games. So naturally, for them, it is a big waste of time. And to call sports evil I think is a huge over reaction. Yes, I know that there are a lot of things that have gone wrong with sports, especially professional sports: The players and owners are making way too much money; some of the games are just too abusive, and dangerous—and concussions and injuries are on the rise; and performance enhancing drugs are a big problem (but they are really starting to crack down on this). All these things are bad, stemming from our own greed and pride. But that doesn’t mean sports themselves are evil. Sports I think are good, but of course, just as with anything we do, we need to conduct ourselves in the right way.
3. Can sports become an idol? Yes, of course. Anything can become an idol if it takes the place of God. If I choose to watch sports instead of going to church or my weekly Bible Study, then I have got my priorities out of place. Remember Eric Liddell. He was a devoted Christian who also happened to love running; and I think we could say that he loved sports. But as we all saw on the movie Chariots of Fire, He refused to run in an Olympic race that was held on Sunday. Here is one who had his priorities in order.
I think sports can be especially good for kids—to help them build self-confidence, and just for the exercise of it. I think it can be a great source of entertainment and encouragement. I love seeing players excel at a sport, and I also love reading news articles about players that have worked hard to achieve success. As I read those article I feel so encouraged. I especially love it when players give God the glory for their gifts and success. I think God is especially pleased by that.