2ndTimothy 3:1-4 says This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
In the 1700’s thousands and thousands gathered to hear men like John Wesley and George Whitfield preach. Today men pack stadiums to watch sporting events. I am not slamming where we are at, but I do have some thoughts, I have had a season that the sports seasons were not big obsessions for me, and I have seen God show me a lot of truths with sports.
First, in general, pro sports is a major distraction that sucks our time and energy. It also very easily becomes an idol. I was a sports nut before I was saved, and followed every sport there was. Football for example, I followed the Buffalo Bills every Sunday during the sports season. Then I followed UB college football, Monday night football, playoff football, and soon the World Football League came about. I liked the American teams like the NY New Jersey Knights and the foreign teams like the Barcelona Dragons. Then I followed Arena football and soon Buffalo had their own team, the Destroyers. I was a sports card nut, and had boxes and boxes of unopened cards. My walls were covered in pennants and memorabilia. Soon there was Thursday night football, Saturday night football, and Sunday night football. I would watch the high lights on HBO, and ESPN and read them in Sports Illustrated. I went to games, I went to bars to watch games. We had Superbowl parties each year.
If that wasn’t enough, I also watched Major League Baseball, Major Indoor Lacrosse, professional tennis, Olympic events, National Hockey League, the NBA, and NASCAAR. I don’t know where I fit in a love for Hollywood movies. I loved expansion teams, and I loved the underdog. I was the perfect Bills fan.
When I got saved, I soon saw that you can’t serve God and sports. There was a time for maybe several years where I basically had no clue who was playing in the playoffs, I no longer knew who the “superstars” were, and I had no idea where some teams went, and my life went on. I was preaching at the NHL games and some other sporting events, and I saw clearly how much this was a worship service and how much of an idol these things were.
I also have in recent days seen some of this idol creep back because I started out of curiosity giving some attention to who was in the playoffs. I had no idea the Heat won the last 2 NBA championships, or that the Blackhawks and Bruins became good teams, or the Spurs won 5 championships. I didn’t care. But slowly this love for sports became more of a force in my heart as I started checking scores again and looking at the Sports page and getting captivated by the upsets and surprises. When our family would go out to dinner, and the prosports were on, I was drawn to them like a moth to a bug zapper.
I now see the World Cup in action and how captivating that is. Our passion in America is mostly the NHL but the world is in a frenzy over soccer. I find watching it interesting and get sucked in fairly quickly just like everyone else.
I am not better, I was not more spiritual because I had a season I ignored the sports seasons. I am writing this to share that I have some perspective on what I am writing.
Here is what I learned about pro sports. They are a false substitute for our need for action and adventure. We are meant to worship God and we get suckered instead being in awe of a man like Lebron James who makes $50 million a year to dribble a ball and dunk it through a hoop. Christians are meant to be fully in love with Jesus and fully surrendered to the adventure he has for our lives. Instead, we settle to be passive observers in these games, and we miss the “game of life”.
The LA Kings won the ultimate NHL prize, the coveted Stanley Cup. The Bible says thou shalt not covet, yet that is what the teams all do. And now they won 2 of the past 3. They have to return the Cup at the start of next season, and the only thing that will temporarily satisfy them and their fans next year is to win it again. The Miami Heat won the past 2 championships the previous 2 years and were losing this year to the Spurs. Despite being in the finals, and despite winning the past 2 Championships their home fans BOOED them during their last home finals game.
Too many Christian men today go to church and talk about their teams before the service, check scores during church, and talk about the game after the service. Then they rush home to watch the game and it has their hearts. God doesn’t.
I think following ProSports ruins and poisons and deadens our desire to follow the Lord Jesus. He said in Matthew 6:24 that No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
You can’t follow Jesus and your favorite team.
You need to make a choice. The Bills or the Bible. The Colts or Church. The NBA or the KJV. Jesus or the Jaguars.
Going evangelizing or getting entertained. Being a fanatic for God or being a Sports Nut. Praying or playing. Getting on your knees or turning on you TV.
Drinking from a World Cup that is full of holes that leaves you thirsty for more, or drinking from the living water that quenches all thirsts?
Today’s Christianity says Enjoy Both! You can have your cake and eat it too. Go to church on Sunday and then the rest of the day is yours! However, the truth is our hearts are deceitful and our hearts will not be satisfied in the “neutral zone.” We either will serve God or serve ourselves. Either God will slowly have control of our hearts or the idols of this world will push God out.
The main reason we accept pro sports as normal today in Christianity is our version of Christianity is so blah and boring that Pro Sports appeal to our nature for action. The key is to repent, but to replace our love for Pro Sports with serving others and getting busy preaching the gospel to every creature. Instead of going to a game, try preaching outside it one time. You will more action than a Game 7 Sudden Death Overtime Game. And then, just maybe, some men will see the vanity of professional sporting events.
After all, these are just games, and games are for children.