By Keith Lee, Associate Pastor
One blog writer (www.churchvssports.org) points out that sports is assuming an attitude that religious institutions once held. He observes:
The modern-day sports culture employs all of the tyrannical techniques that people claim are the reasons they don’t believe in organized religion: The pomp and circumstance. The empty superstitious traditions. The brainwashing that arbitrarily says we are better than you. The use of guilt to manipulate you into participating. The threat of exile if you don’t toe the line. The cultural dominance that automatically assumes everyone celebrates your holidays.
Recently this overbearing mindset in the sports world came head to head with Lebron James, considered to be the best basketball player. While he was playing for the Miami Heat, the general manager, Pat Riley, would fine his players $1,500 if they helped an opponent up off the floor. His reasoning was that players were getting too friendly, and he wanted to bring back the fierce competition mindset from the 80’s when he was the coach of the Lakers and the Knicks. But, players these days do not agree with him because they know that there’s more to life than basketball. When Lebron went back to the Cleveland Cavs and his team was to play the Heat, there was some tension in the air. However, the best players from each team, Lebron and Dwayne Wade, were hugging and being friendly before the match. TV commentators couldn’t understand it. Obviously Pat Riley was upset. It got so much attention in the media, Lebron was asked about his fraternizing with members of the opposing team. He responded, “Hey guys, basketballs will stop bouncing some day … but my friendship with Dwayne will go on.”
To me, he was rephrasing the apostle Paul who advised his disciple, Timothy, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1Tim 4:8). It’s common for many faith communities in Northern Virginia to feel like they are competing against sports. But I believe sports and church share some important goals; they help in developing self-discipline, character, persistence, organizational skills, and team work. I do not want to pit sports against church, but see it as one of the spiritual tools that aids in developing life skills. I ask that parents notice this all-encompassing tendency in sports and help children develop a healthy perspective toward athletics with respect to our journey in Christ.