The Moral Value of Sports

There are 10 Comments

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

It's true that Scripture alludes a few times to athletic competition in emphasizing personal discipline, endurance, patience, and the like.

But I can't help but think that in our times there are mainly lessons about idolatry, and misplaced priorities.

JD Miller's picture

My frustration with sports is that sometimes Christians look at it as a gothardlike formula for building character in their children.  We should use all events in life as teaching opportunities, but the idea that someone who participates in sports will have more character than someone who does not is misguided.  Sadly the opposite is sometimes the case.  Of course I have a bias, since I have an eyesight disability that makes it very difficult for me to catch anything by sight (I do not see moving objects in the same place that most people see them.  I can sometimes do better catching by sound).  Sports helped me to see others true character (or lack thereof) but I did not see it developing Christlike attitudes towards those who were not able to do well at sports.

Andrew K's picture

JD Miller wrote:

My frustration with sports is that sometimes Christians look at it as a gothardlike formula for building character in their children.  We should use all events in life as teaching opportunities, but the idea that someone who participates in sports will have more character than someone who does not is misguided.  Sadly the opposite is sometimes the case.  Of course I have a bias, since I have an eyesight disability that makes it very difficult for me to catch anything by sight (I do not see moving objects in the same place that most people see them.  I can sometimes do better catching by sound).  Sports helped me to see others true character (or lack thereof) but I did not see it developing Christlike attitudes towards those who were not able to do well at sports.

True, we did not look upon the athletes as exemplars of character and integrity in my Christian college. Quite the contrary, frequently. Anyone have a different experience?

Lee's picture

Nehushtan! A valuable spiritual tool that has degenerated primarily to idolatry.

Lee

Joel Shaffer's picture

Andrew K wrote:

 

JD Miller wrote:

 

My frustration with sports is that sometimes Christians look at it as a gothardlike formula for building character in their children.  We should use all events in life as teaching opportunities, but the idea that someone who participates in sports will have more character than someone who does not is misguided.  Sadly the opposite is sometimes the case.  Of course I have a bias, since I have an eyesight disability that makes it very difficult for me to catch anything by sight (I do not see moving objects in the same place that most people see them.  I can sometimes do better catching by sound).  Sports helped me to see others true character (or lack thereof) but I did not see it developing Christlike attitudes towards those who were not able to do well at sports.

 

 

True, we did not look upon the athletes as exemplars of character and integrity in my Christian college. Quite the contrary, frequently. Anyone have a different experience?

My experience is more about my son's situation at his school.

I was disappointed with this article because it didn't deal with the potential of idolatry that can consume a student-athlete or his/her parents.   At the Christian high school where my son attends, I have observed the good, bad and the ugly that sports has produced.  Oftentimes, the club and AAU driven sports (Basketball, Soccer, and Volleyball) tends to feed the beast as parents revolve the lives of their kids around their chosen sport.  Pressure comes from AAU/Club coaches, some of which deceive their sports consumers into believing that the participating child will never have the chance to play in college without the long-term AAU/Club experience.   Consequently, there is a forsaking of the assembly among many Christian athletic parents that pursue the club and AAU sports for their children and their children often mimic their parent's behavior, not having any time for God and God's people.  As a result, several of these student athletes are selfishly consumed with themselves, treat others badly (including bullying), and lack humility.  Of course I have seen exceptions in the lives of certain families and coaches that recognize the dangers of idolatry in sports and intentionally make glorifying Christ the reason and center for playing sports, which includes making church priority.  

By the way, my son is a student-athlete who happens to be an all-conference linebacker.  This past year he received invites to join 7-on-7 leagues representing West Michigan that play on Sunday and attend football clinics/combines put on by certain colleges on Sundays, but he understands that the worshipping Christ together with God's people and serving the body of Christ must take priority.  He really enjoys his Sabbath on Sunday too so he didn't participate.   And his coaches have godly character and reinforce what we teach him and his sisters.    However, he has learned many lessons that this article brings to light, but he also has learned what kind of an athlete he does not want to be by observing the repulsive behaviors of certain athletes at his school.      

 

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

There is not really very much that can be learned from athletic competition that can't be learned from a good bit of hard work... with a group working on the same project.

I do appreciate my brief experiences with sports for the discovery that I could in fact keep going long, long after I thought running any further would kill me. This has been kind of a metaphor for certain aspects of life more than once! Smile
 ... but some of the jobs I did as a teen taught the lesson just as well, I think. One reinforced the other.

Bert Perry's picture

We can learn a LOT of the same lessons from good hard work, but keep in mind that Paul uses the analogy of athletics as a metaphor for the Christian life, and Hebrews 12:1 arguably uses games like the ancient Olympics as a picture of our faith.  Why so?  

Really because for intensity of effort, real athletics and military endeavors leave our daily work in the dust.  Nobody can do effort like a road race for 40 hours per week--but there are places where we need that effort in our Christian life.

No argument that there is too much money and corruption (drugs, bribes, etc..) in sports.  But nevertheless, there is a great lesson there if only we'll learn it.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Ron Bean's picture

I've been involved in sports as a player, coach, official, athletic director, and spectator for most of my life. It took a stint as a principal in a small Christian school that couldn't field teams in the more popular sports to introduce me (and my sons) to the best sport there is for character building---cross country running! 

It's a sport that one can engage in long after school years are gone and it instills some important character traits; among them "Don't Quit!" The sportsmanship among runners is unique. And no one ever argues with the officials.

I "coerced" my the 9th grade son into joining our team to be our fifth runner. He was a pudgy, short-legged soul of whom I required two things - "Finish the Course!" (that was on our jerseys) and don't stop running. In his first race he finished dead last in a field of 400 runners yet smiled at the end because he met those goals. BTW, 10 years later he's participating in endurance sports and loving it. 

As for my older son, may I suggest you give this a read:

http://sharperiron.org/article/curious-fellowship-of-distance-athlete

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Bert Perry's picture

I'm also a "superannuated" cross country runner, and my first race in high school, they were pulling up the flags before I got to them.  Kept with it through a couple of years in college, and I still run--albeit "just a touch" closer than I did my senior year in high school.  It's a great sport for toughness, to the point that I remember fellow athletes noting that they weren't the ones skipping and joking out of practice--they were too tired--but rather the guys on the football and volleyball teams.

I would guess that similar toughness is found on the soccer field.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Ron Bean's picture

One of the problems with sports is that most of us wind up being spectators rather than participants. When I look at youth sports I'm inclined to introduce young people to sports that they can engage in the rest of their lives. Football, baseball, and basketball are probably not going to make that cut.

One of my "beefs" against sport fans is when they start whining (or worse) about the officiating. When you do, you're demonstrating to the world what you think of authority. 

And my older son, the one who wrote the article on running. He's a Navy officer today and still runs.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan