PROFESSIONAL SPORTS AND THE CHRISTIAN
compiled by Michael Jeshurun
I was reading ‘The Week’ (magazine) a few days ago and was intrigued by the picture of an American Footballer kneeling in the stadium praying. The article said the style in which he was kneeling and praying was called ‘Tebowing’ and the name of the man kneeling was Tim Tebow. The week following I saw this ‘tebowing’ picture flashed all across the media and every time I saw it I wondered what he could be praying about.
Was he praying – “In this thing the LORD pardon thy servant . .” [2Kings 5:18] or was he praying “deliver me from this evil” [Matt 6:13] or was he just a nominal lost Christian praying, “Lord bless this game and help us to win that You might get all the glory”?!
Yes I know this sounds very unloving and harsh, but fact is ‘Professional Sports’ be it football, soccer, cricket or whatever – it is an Abomination to God! And you cannot take something which God hates and clean it up to ‘give Him glory’! To take that which is an outright obvious abomination to God and use it in His service is presumptuous, a species of self-will, laying us open to the charge of “Who hath required this at your hand?” [Isaiah 1:12]; and for us to ask God’s blessing upon the same is only seeking to make Him of our mind. Let us not forget the solemn warning pointed by the death of Uzzah, when the Lord God made a breach in Israel because they “sought Him not after the due order” [1Chronicles 15:13). We must keep closely to God’s “due order” if we are to have His approbation in anything we use to glorify Him!
Are you telling me that God hates all sports and is against it? Let us make this plain – it is not wrong or sinful for a father to take his children out to the park to toss a Frisbee or a ball and have some fun. Neither is it sinful for the neighborhood kids to come together for a friendly ball game. But ‘professional sports’ at both college and state level is more than just a ‘game’! It is a religion and an idolatrous one at that. And as we shall see it has all the features of that which constitutes what the Scripture terms as ‘works of the flesh’! [Gal 5:19-21]
“That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God”! [Luke 16:15]
This verse alone should settle it once and for all whether ‘professional sports’ is well pleasing to God or an abomination to Him.
How ‘highly esteemed’ is sports today?
Commenting on the amazing sports frenzy that has permeated the land, sports psychologist Dr. Alan Goldberg of the University of Connecticut said: “Sports [is] like a religion, and the god of that religion that we all worship is the god of winning” (www.CNSNews.com, August 31, 2001). An extensive survey commissioned in 1983 found that seven in every 10 Americans watches, reads, or talks about sports every day. The study, the most comprehensive ever undertaken of America’s attachment to sports, found that almost 35 million people are “ardent sports fans” who watch sports events on television at least once a week, and in some cases, every day. In 1983 that World Almanac and Book of Facts polled 2,000 8th-grade students to see which persons they most admired. There was not a single name on the list who was not an entertainer or a sports figure.
In 1982, the famous sports announcer Howard Cosell, while viewing the largest Sunday football game attendance in Texas history, said “the Cowboys are more than a football team in Dallas; they are a religion.” He exclaimed, “Look at the loyalty of those people! Look at the signs they have made. Truly, the Cowboys are a religion in Dallas.” He was right. Professional football has become a religion all across America. On Sunday, December 27, 1987, 75,000 Denver Broncos football fans battled blizzard conditions to reach Mile High Stadium by the 2 p.m. kickoff. The airport was closed at 12:30 p.m. that Sunday and remained closed until 6 a.m. Monday. Thousands of people were stranded at the airport, but those extreme conditions did not stop the football-mad crowd.
The noise level in a domed ballpark has been recorded at 125 decibels. If you did not know that it was coming from a stadium you would think that there was a war going on. This was in Minnesota’s Metrodome in Game 2 of the 1987 World Series (USA Today, Oct. 18-20, 1991, p. A1). That is louder than a launch of the massive Saturn V rockets which carried men to the moon. The noise level for a Saturn V launch was 120 decibels.
To sports fans it matters little what morality their sports heroes have. A survey of 1,240 adults completed in 1995 and published in Sports Marketing Newsletter asked people to name the athletes they most admired. The first four were Magic Johnson (HIV positive and an admitted adulterer), Tonya Harding (convicted conspirator for the violent attack upon fellow-skater Nancy Carrigan), O.J. Simpson (held financially liable by a jury for murdering his wife), and Mike Tyson (convicted rapist).
Fallen man will worship anything other than the true God. And for multitudes their sports heroes have become their Gods. Charles S. Prebish, associate professor of religious studies at Pennsylvania State University said, “Sport is America’s newest and fastest-growing religion, far outdistancing whatever is in second place”.
One can understand the worldly people making a ‘god’ out of sports. But what about Christians? Houston’s First Baptist Church announced in June 1994 that “if there is a sixth game between the Rockets and the Knicks” the Sunday P.M. service might be changed.
I John 5:21 says, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.”
Professional and collegiate sports are a god of this world. They are worshiped, loved, praised and talked about constantly. They are even a source of gambling for many. Satan uses sports very effectively to take men’s minds off eternity and their need of a Saviour. Children grow up with sports heroes as their champions. Many even desire to be like their idol and grow up to be famous and great. Many church members know more about some sport, team or man than they do about Jesus Christ and his word. This is idolatry!
Idolatry is not just bowing before Mary or Joseph or any other statue. Webster’s dictionary defines an “idol” as any object of ardent or excessive devotion. It is a shame that so many professing Christians bow to the shrine of sports.
“Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished”. [Prov 16:5]
What is it that professional sports thrives on? You guessed it- PRIDE! “He is the best; we are the best; I am the best; we win the most games; hit the best; run the best; throw the best; the best defense; the best offense; the best goalkeeper” etc the wise man in Proverbs warns that – the high look and the proud heart are sin. 1 Timothy 3:6 reminds us that pride brought the downfall of the devil. 2 Timothy 3:2, says pride is one of the characteristics of apostate people in the last days. 1 John 2:16 warns that the pride of life is not of the Father but is of the world, and God’s people are not to love the world.
PROFESSIONAL SPORTS IS BASED ON SELFISHNESS.
When the well-known evangelist Billy Sunday turned his back on a successful professional baseball career in 1893, he gave ten reasons for leaving. Reason number two was “Because it develops a spirit of jealousy and selfishness; one’s whole desires are for personal success regardless of what befalls others.” As a matter of fact, sports teaches us to be happy when our opponents fail or when another player is injured so that I am promoted to his position. Winning and promotion of self are what matter most.
PROFESSIONAL SPORTS IS FULL OF COVETOUSNESS.
Covetousness is one of the definitions of modern professional sports. Loyalty to the team or country is out of the question. Unlike the true Christian who is not for sale (because Christ has already bought him) the professional sportsman will play against his own for a price!
Professional sports in the West today is an orgy of greed, and the Bible says this is a sin akin to idolatry. “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry” [Colo3:5].
PROFESSIONAL SPORTS IS PERMEATED WITH THAT WHICH THE BIBLE CONDEMNS AS LICENTIOUS, ILLICIT AND FILTHY.
Consider the ever-present ungodly beer commercials, the beer drinking, the drunkenness, the gambling, the diabolic, fleshly rock music, the sensual dancing, the indecent clothing, the cursing and blasphemy. What does the Bible tell us about such things? “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” [Eph 5:11]. Professional sports stars are frequently in the news for their moral perversions, for rape and assault charges, for public drunkenness, for drug arrests, for ugly divorces. The sports announcers are also frequently caught in immoral situations. One of the top U.S. announcers recently was charged with indecency and unlawful assault of and restraint of women. He pled guilty of a lesser charge of assault to avoid more serious charge of forced sodomy. During the trial, his perverted sex life was displayed to the public. In the last few days an announcer on a popular baseball television broadcast was charged with public indecency after urinating from a window onto some police officers below. You will read of things like this almost on a daily basis in the sports section of the newspaper. Professional sports is a trashy environment.
PROFESSIONAL SPORTS DESPISES THE CHURCH.
Not many decades past, professional sports was not played on Sundays in respect for the Lord’s Day and the command of God that Christians not forsake the assembling of themselves together. “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” [Heb 10:24-25]. The only thing that has caused more people to absent themselves from the house of God than sports, is television in general. Holidays such as Thanksgiving, which once were days dedicated particularly to worshipping God and enjoying family time, today are more likely to be consumed by professional sporting events.
PROFESSIONAL SPORTS AND SUPERSTITIONS
Many times I have heard sports announcers say that there is not a more superstitious group than professional sports players. Some obsessively wear the same pair of socks or underwear every game. Great numbers of them have their various lucky charms. Some go through inflexible superstitious routines prior to each game or each at bat or each play. As the pagans of old they are confiding in their “lucky stars,” but this is a form of idolatrous witchcraft [Deut. 18:10-12]. Our times are not in the hands of the stars. Our fortunes are not influenced by charms and rituals.
PROFESSIONAL SPORTS STINKS OF COMMERCIALISM
Professional sports has always had a strong financial motivation. It is, after all, an occupation pursued for profit. There was a time, though, when it appeared that money was not the only motive, or even the overriding motive, for sports players. Today, by contrast, the commercial aspect to professional sports is all pervasive, and the words of those who claim not to be caught up in the gross commercialism of the game sound hollow. Star players are granted multimillion dollar contracts merely for permitting a company to use their name and likeness to sell everything from automobiles to toothpaste. The names and logos of businesses appear on the players shoes, clothes, caps, equipment, everywhere. We wonder when the players will begin allowing themselves to be tattooed with business ads. The stadiums are literally plastered with advertisements. So are the Internet sites and the television and radio productions. Absolutely everything having to do with professional sports today is commercialized to the hilt.
BUT WHAT ABOUT CHRISTIAN SPORTS STARS WHO WITNESS FOR THE LORD?
What would you say of a Rock musician who prays before a concert or has crucifixes all over the stage? Some do. At the PMRC hearings, Dee Snider vocalist of Twisted Sister mentioned in his Statement to the Senate that he considers himself Christian, saying “I was born and raised a Christian and I still adhere to those principles. Alice Cooper too claims to be a born again Christian.
“But that can’t be” you say, “Those guys are so obviously demonic”! “And what they represent is obviously devilish”!
But you do not see professional sports as UNGODLY though it is associated with drinking alcohol, drugs, gambling, high emotions– anger, frustration, loss of self-control, mob violence, excitement; secular music, immodestly dressed cheerleaders, lasciviousness, groupies, fans who are idolatrous of their favorite team players, and above all: fans who curse the name of our Lord Jesus— when their favorite team is losing, etc –
Let me be blunt about this. If you do not see this, then there is a marvelous blindness upon you!
If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! [Matt 6:23]
Yes, the Lord Jesus sat with drunks and harlots, but Scripture makes it plain that he was “separate from sinners” [Heb 7:26].
Let me know when Tim Tebow or any other professional sportsman is witnessing in the stands either with a banner or tracts saying –
“Professional sports is an abomination to God! Have nothing to do with it”!
Then maybe I’ll believe you.
You don’t witness for the Lord by kneeling down in a stadium or painting John 3:16 on your cheek while you are still a part of the ABOMINATION!
What communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God . . Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. [2Cor6:14-18]
[The above article prepared from various sources on the web. All the glory to God alone!]