I enjoy following professional sports—football, basketball, and golf in particular. They provide a diversion from the busyness of normal life. I enjoy the beauty of the athletic talent on display, the strategy of the games, and the competitive banter with other fans. As of this writing, the NBA season is on hold, the golf season has started with some bumps along the way, baseball is planning a shortened season, and the NFL is still deciding how this Fall will work. I have not missed any of them.
While I have enjoyed them all in the past, I have always set boundaries for myself (as an adult) so as to not get too wrapped up in them. Of course, I have not allowed them to cause me to miss a church service or ministry obligation, or even show up late. I do have some licensed apparel in my collection, but only one item has been obtained with my own money (they are way overpriced). I have certain players I have admired, but you won’t ever see me wearing a jersey with anyone’s name or number on it. Sooner or later most of them disappoint with an arrest, open immorality, foul language in an interview, publicly expressing religious or political views that I object to, or numerous other ways. The teams themselves increasingly align themselves with people and movements that I can’t abide by.
The Apostle Paul often made reference to sporting events in his writings (running a race, wrestling, etc.) so I suspect he had an interest himself. Yet, it is obvious by his life that he kept it in its proper place. Even when his writings included athletic references he always balanced them with a spiritual emphasis. For example, in Philippians 2:16 he references running as he reflects on the day he faces Christ. In I Corinthians 9:24-27 he again refers to running a race, but relates it to personal discipline in the Christian life and seeking a reward. That is a balance and focus I want in my life.
Whenever professional sports return I will probably enjoy them again, although with less enthusiasm. Over the past few months, the words and actions of most players and teams have left a bad taste in my mouth. I suspect that is an aspect of following sports that will never return to what it was before all this. I do know this. If it gets to where I have to decide to make a complete break from following them, I can live without them–and I am sure they can live without me!
Pastor Don Root