The Salt Lake Tribune lists 12 sports stars that are always keen to give God the credit when they (or their team) win. Not being a sports follower myself, most of those names are unknown to me.
There’s a short ezine article by Eric P. Lee suggesting that Christian sports stars, be they pro or still in school, have a duty to their fans to be God’s messengers on earth, essentially.
Is it too much of a hail-mary to believe that God wants those whom He has gifted athletically to teach via their sport? Absolutely Not. Since God truly equips His servants with the proper gifts needed to do His good will (Hebrews 13:20-21),
He will not hold one of His players back from dishing out the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, here is what I am contending: Christian Athletics should serve solely as a means of reaching out to a hurting world for the cause of Jesus Christ.
Why they’d be doing it during the game is what’s annoying, though. They can do whatever the hell they want when they’re off the field or court but during the game, they should concentrate on the bloody game and leave religion out of it. Christians aren’t the only people in the stands, after all. It puts me in mind of that school whose cheerleaders got in trouble for painting bible verses on posters for their team to jump through.
Here’s a good question from John Walters at NBC Sports before the 2009 Superbowl : what if a player thanked another deity?
Gregg Doyel of CBSSports.com recently wrote, “Tebow’s religion is seen as good because it is the religion of the majority. But it’s not the religion of everybody. It’s exclusionary, and just because you share Tebow’s faith, that doesn’t mean you’re right.”
And Doyel, by the way, is both a Christian and a Gator alum. His objectivity is not in question.
“Exclusionary?” says Herb Lusk. “That’s a pretty foolish statement. Does the guy that does the Funky Chicken after scoring, does he exclude me?”
Lusk was on the Salt Lake list; he’s team Chaplin for the Philadelphia Eagles now but he was the one in 1977 who first got down on one knee after a touchdown to praise the Almighty. Lusk is making a stupid comparison here, though. The Funky Chicken is a dance and not connected to a religious belief of any kind, therefore it can’t exclude anyone (except those with taste).
And yet, what if some Cardinal or Steeler were to be named Most Valuable Player come Sunday and lead off his interview in front of the entire world, by saying, “I’d just like to thank L. Ron Hubbard and the church of Scientology?” Or, “I’d just like to express gratitude to my dark lord Beelzebub?”
That might give NBC’s sideline reporter a moment’s pause, no?
Walters also makes the point that it’s hardly a new idea, mixing sports and religion. Zeus and the Olympics went hand in hand in the earliest days and since sports share a lot in common with wars, it should come as no surprise that invoking the help of supernatural entities to best one’s enemies would still be a popular move. Especially since there’s a habit of thinking God’s picking the winner ahead of time anyway and that’s the reason they win.
Which brings me to the question — just because we’ve been doing it for so long, letting people do it for so long, is that a good enough reason to encourage people to continue dragging their specific God onto the field with them? Is a god really providing an assist, or is it just a confidence booster that improves morale and chutzpah, as it were? Is conversion what sports stars should be aiming for, or should they be aiming to add funding to whatever town they play for by winning a game for them once in a while?