Posts Tagged ‘Sports’

The god of Sports

Posted: December 29, 2013 in Sports
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Callie watching in bewilderment as I cheer my team to victory

Callie watching in bewilderment as I cheer my team to victory

We love our sports in America, and I’m sure that’s just as true in other countries. This was in clear view Saturday as the most anticipated annual local rivalry game of the year took place in college basketball between my favorite team – the University of Kentucky Wildcats – and the University of Louisville Cardinals. I was glad when my lower-ranked team won the game. I nervously paced, clapped and yelled my way through the game in the privacy of my man cave with only my befuddled dog Callie watching in bewilderment at my unusual behavior.

Throughout the game I checked my Facebook news feed to read up on comments during breaks in the game action. I try not to be one of those rub-it-in-your-nose obnoxious winners or a whining sore loser, regardless of the outcome of the game. I’ll root for my team and if they win, I’m elated. If they lose, I’ll take it like a man. I enjoy a little smack talk about who will win. I’ll post on social media, but in a way that is respectful. Living in Louisville, I have as many Louisville fans as friends as I do Kentucky fans here, so to risk damage to relationships over any sports loyalty seems overboard, short-sighted, unnecessary and foolish.

It was with dismay, then, that I read some of the comments of fans on Facebook following the game. People were calling each other out by name and exchanging jabs that were unnecessary and unhelpful – potentially harmful to the long-term prospects of the relationship. How senseless! Are sports so important to us that we deem our team winning or saving face in the midst of defeat to be more important than our relationships?

The truth is that sports is a god in America. I mean that in all seriousness. The first two of the Ten Commandments are “You shall have no others gods before me” and “You shall not make for yourself an idol” (Exodus 20:3-4, New International Version). I believe that a great number of people violate both of those commandments regularly in their lives by having greater loyalty to sports and to their favorite teams than to Almighty God.

We see this play out when people would rather devote Sundays to their sport than to worshiping together with other believers. We see it when people can spend great amounts of money or time to attend or participate in sports, but they would only grudgingly drop a few dollars (if any) in an offering plate at church on those occasional times they muster the will to be present. We see it when parents allow the practice and game times of their children’s sports teams to win the scheduling conflict with participation at church and faith-related events. We see it in the cancellation of regular faith-related activities around events such as the Super Bowl (although I’ve never understood why some churches think they must create competing events for that time when they would not normally meet on Sunday). We see it when more enthusiasm is displayed about a game than about one’s relationship with God. We see it when losing a game or tournament upsets some far more than the prospect of their family, friends, neighbors and coworkers spending eternity in Hell because of not knowing Christ as savior.

It’s possible to be a sports fan and still love God more than sports, of course, but I honestly think countless people in our country have created a god of sports to be the idol at which they bow. In one swoop of misplaced loyalty, they have broken the first commandment by putting something else above God, and that something else of sports has become the idol of the broken second commandment which consumes their time, attention and loyalty. If someone is in doubt, they probably just need to look at how they spend their time and their money and at what gets them most worked up emotionally. Is it their relationship with God or is it sports (or something else)? If it’s anything but one’s relationship with and service for Christ, then you’ve created a god and an idol of your own making.

There is room for God and sports in life, but God doesn’t tolerate any loyalties greater than our loyalty to Him. He will not be mocked. Those who continue to create in their own minds and demonstrate by their behavior that their god is sports or anything else rather than God are in grave danger of missing out on the very purpose of this life and the next. That saddens me.

Sports can be a great part of a healthy, fun, exciting life. I believe God built the desire for it into our human nature. Like other aspects of life, though, it has gone too far when our love and devotion to it is greater than what we demonstrate for the God who made us and to whom we owe our ultimate allegiance. It has also gone too far when we jeopardize other human relationships over loyalty to a team.

Moving On

Posted: March 19, 2013 in Sports
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UKThis was a very tough year and a tougher week for those of us who are die-hard University of Kentucky Wildcat basketball fans.  Coming off last year’s eighth national championship season, it was a bitter pill to swallow not making it into the field of 68 teams for the NCAA tournament.  I really had no desire to watch an NIT game Tuesday night in hopes of coming in as the 69th place team for the season, so it’s just as well that my bare bones basic cable package doesn’t include any ESPN channels.  We lost our opening game of the NIT to end the pain.

So how does a fan react to that?  UK fans are not accustomed to failing to make the NCAA tournament.  Anything less than a championship is a less-than-acceptable year for us.

Humble pie tastes like crap, but it’s occasionally good for us.  In fact, I wrote a blog post about it last year regarding a work-related matter.

The best thing to do is for coaches and players to learn from the experience and set their sights to next season.  Big Blue Madness is only 210 days away!  For fans, it’s time to stay loyal to the winningest program in all of college basketball, to be proud of our history, to believe in its future, to support the team and cheer them on to a better season next year.

It would be nice if my Facebook and Twitter feed wasn’t filled with UK haters that get their kicks from derogatory remarks about our bad year.  If the tables were turned, I know I would not be gloating or making fun of my team’s rivals if they had a bad year because I respect the feelings of my many friends in Louisville and elsewhere who have other loyalties.  I only wish they shared the same concern for my feelings.

What’s done is done.  It’s time to move on, whether the topic is sports or other more meaningful aspects of life.