Football and other sports can be fun as well as a distraction to the Christian life. For me, it has become a distraction that needs more moderation. At the end of this piece, you can examine yourself, as to whether or not you’re a sportsaholic.
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- I’m not protesting. A protest is a “season in time response” to something you don’t like.
- I’m not selling legalism. Legalism is a rigid rule put in place to do or not do something. It is a line drawn that nobody crosses. Legalism is more than that, but it is at least that.
- I’m stating a preference. It’s my preference, not yours. I have no personal struggle with anyone who watches football, and it would be misguided on my part to expect anyone to embrace my preferences.
More than likely, if you invite me over to watch a game with you, I will watch, and we will have fun. If you give me tickets to a game, I will gladly accept them. Give me five, and I’ll take my family. That would be kind of you.
The struggle I have with football is about my personal non-legalistic preference born out of a desire to guard my soul. One of the many beauties of Christian liberty on secondary issues is how we can choose what we want to do and still be friends.
I have been watching football for over fifty years. As a child, football was one of my many “saviors.” It gave me a way to escape a dysfunctional family life while incarcerated in that family.
I have a lot of wonderful memories of many sports, including wrestling. You could say I was a sportsaholic. I have been late to church functions because of sports. I’ve sat in the crow’s nest of a church service working the cameras while watching a football game.
Traditionally, we have gathered with various small groups to watch Super Bowls, which has always been fun times. I’m sure I will be doing that again. I’m not opposed to having a good time.
But during the past few years, I have had this growing disinterest in sports. Apart from these aforementioned clarifying caveats, I have decided not to be a football watcher any longer. Here are five reasons I made that decision.
It’s About Time
As I’ve aged, I have become more aware of the finish line. The Lord is counting my days, and there are fewer of them than they used to be. Though I have no idea when He’s going to call me home, I want to spend my final days doing more important things than watching a game.
It is impossible for me to keep up with this ministry. At the end of any afternoon or early evening, I stop. I never finish. I just stop. There is always more to do than I can do and all of it is eternal good stuff. That is how I want to spend my time. When I was younger, I did not think a lot about wasting time. But now I live with a strong sense of urgency.
Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted.
It’s About Family
My family is a greater priority to me than my work. I love spending time with them. As my children are getting closer to the door of adulthood, I realize, like my impending death, that our days together under one roof are also limited.
Spending our time watching a three-hour sporting event is not the best redemptive use of our family time. We can have more fun than sitting side-by-side staring into the blue light of the tube.
It’s About Politics
There used to be a time when players were just players. They were not social or political activists. With the proliferation of social media, any athlete can disrespect our flag or any other thing he (she) wants to disrespect, and it is national headlines for days.
Today’s athlete has partnered with the media to give our country one of its most persuasive voices. It’s mass indoctrination about moral issues and lifestyle choices that I reject. I don’t dismiss the athlete because we’re all made in the image of God, but I do reject their political and social agendas. I can choose not to watch or listen to their worldviews.
It’s About Showboating
Larry Csonka would take the ball, run into the pack of defensive lineman, knock a few of them down, drag a few more along with him until he finally succumbed. He would get up, walk back to the huddle and do it all over again. That was my generation’s athlete.
Today’s athlete does those things and then goes into a post-play dance routine. After every play. Dabbing. If he is creative enough, he will make the endless loop highlight reel on ESPN where he can feed his ego as the repetition of it all dulls our minds.
True greatness is not that. It’s a man dying on a cross. Give me Jesus.
It’s About Health
CTE is a real thing. Many of our athletes are now fifty years old, and they struggle with thinking, reading, writing, talking, and walking. This tragedy is also why I don’t watch MMA. I can no longer make a case for brutality sports that can cause long-term and even life-threatening injuries. Listen to this podcast from Freakonomics Radio, titled, How Much Brain Damage Do I Have?
Head injuries are a thing, and I don’t want to be part of it. I would never suggest or subject my child to something that would limit the potential God has put into him.
You May Be An Addict If
I don’t know what you need to do. I would never tell you what to do on a secondary issue. I would ask you to consider the possibility of sports being too controlling in your life. If you have a spouse and children, I appeal to you to talk to your family.
Do the Lord, your spouse, and children get your best time and attention? You can answer that question by working through my “you may be an addict if…” statements.
- You know more about your favorite sport than the Bible.
- You can be coaxed into a conversation about sports quicker than you will talk about Jesus.
- You miss church events because of the game.
- You watch (or follow) the game during church events.
- You emote more over your team losing than a soul entangled by sin.
- You show more interest in your favorite sport than your spouse.
- You show more interest in your favorite sport than your child.
- Your children are more involved with sports than the church.
- You won’t let the games go.
While you may have done some of these things episodically, the real issue is if this list characterizes you. If so, you have a problem.
Call to Action
- Ask the individual who knows you best to answer these questions for you.
- If you can’t do that, you may not have a healthy relationship, or you’re trying to hide your problem.
- Compare your answers with the other person and discuss any differences.
Also published on Medium.