Does God Care About Sports?

Does God Care About Sports?

These are not profound (or well written) epiphanies, but rather, random thoughts I had while watching Sportscenter one morning, so please excuse the lack of structure (and closure) in this post. Think of these as merely fun things to think about.

1) Does God care about sports?...short answer, No. There are days when I hear athletes often thanking God for their teams win, or their performance on the field and think, “God doesn’t care about your stupid football game.” Maybe it is a bit cold hearted, but excuse me if I have a bit of a problem thinking of God as intently concerned with the outcome of a sports game when there are wars, genocide, famines and diseases ravishing the world. At the same time, I do think God gives people the ability to perform excellently in sports and is glorified when they do. It is an interesting contrast: yes, as a God believing athlete, you should give praise to God for the talents He has given you, but you also shouldn’t be so na├»ve as to think God cares if your team wins or not. God doesn’t take sides.

2) Sport is a common, unifying thread throughout all humanity, no matter the culture, country or continent, sport or competition is everywhere. Even skinny hipsters race their fixies. Sport or competition seems to be inherently part of what it means to be human. Why is that? For one, I think it allows individuals to identify with a united community and allows very different people to be of “one mind and one spirit”, to quote Philippians. Of course that can be a good or bad thing. On the one hand, being a fan is always a form of tribalism and othering which in the worst cases can lead to violence and actual hatred of other humans simply because they support a team you despise. On the other hand, sports can unify a community in a profoundly positive way. Think of Nelson Mandela, using the South African Rugby team, a team that symbolized apartheid in every way so much so that black South Africans always cheered for whoever was playing them. Mandela used the team to unify a nation on the brink of a race war. In that instance, I think God really was on the side of South Africa in the Rugby World Cup. As weird as it may sound, I think there are times when God wills a side to victory, not because they other team is so evil, but because a victory would redeem or heal a particular community. Is this always the case? Of course not, but I think it happens once in a blue moon.

3) One of my friends had a profound thought while at a Dodger game once. He, a twenty-something, white guy was in the bathroom on a scorching hot day at The Ravine. It was so hot, he took off his shirt and put it under running water in the sink. At the sink next to him was a huge, Latino dude with tattoos everywhere. As he rinsed his shirt, the man next to him said, “Yo homes, that’s a good idea!” and proceeded to take off his shirt and do the same and the two started talking and had a conversation about the Dodgers. It was two profoundly different people, who would have never talked to each other in any other situation, connecting and having a shared experience of being a fan. My friend began to think about how the Church is similarly a community of people for whom the common denominator is Jesus, not personality, or interests, or gender, or ethnicity. I thought it was an interesting and valuable insight and one I plan to reflect on the next time I am at a Dodger game.

So what do you think?