June 1, 2021
When we think of news, we probably don’t think of sports. But much of the news we get is devoted to sports, a great multitude of sports, amateur and professional, scores, profiles of players, management changes, and, of course, the on-field dramas. This might remind us that politics and economics, so vitally important, are not everything. Life is still larger! Even if sports have economic and political dimensions, something increasingly emphasized for good or ill, there is an enjoyment that comes with sports that humankind has steadfastly acknowledged. In addition, this enjoyment is a necessary diversion from the taxing realities of work and political struggle. Necessary because we need renewal. Art can function similarly or, put another way, our sports are a form of art.
The Christian who follows and takes part in sports might make a connection between playing and the Sabbath. Understood fully, the Sabbath is not just about catching our breath, resting our bodies. No, this but more is intended by the Sabbath. The Sabbath reminds us that life depends on God and that we are to delight in creation in its many dimensions. So playing – whether we are talking about a child on the playground or an Olympic performer – is a delight given to us by the maker and designer of life. It’s meant to be a part of our weekly, if not daily, fabric. Working delight into our lives—playing and watching others play--is not irresponsible (though neglecting work can make it so) but an act of responsibility. It’s part of bringing our creation’s goodness.
This doesn’t mean that all of our sports are in good shape. We have to worry about concussive sports like boxing and cage fighting and the like. There’s gambling, drug use, and economic profiteering in professional sports, to name a few concerns. So, we need a good ethic for our sports. But for most of us, finding delight in sports—and, again, art and music can be thought of in the same way--can be a way of pushing back on the baleful effects of workaholism that diminish our enjoyment of the world God has given us. So, delight, whether your team wins of loses, in the joy of sports!