As the world focuses its collective eyes upon China the next couple of weeks in it’s once every four years big love fest; I choose to look elsewhere to what may or may not be going on. I am sure the opening ceremonies will be grandeur and the millions upon millions of dollars spent to entertain the world will be spectacular. I choose to ignore such foolishness for it all has absolutely nothing to do with my God and is nothing but pure vanity.
There are hundreds of committed Christians participating in the upcoming games and I pray they do well. I pray they give their best and if they win and I will thank God. But, what if they come in last place? Does that mean God didn’t like them? It is a very tricky issue to blame God for winning at anything for it implies if you lose that God had forsaken you. What if two Christians are competing against each other? Somebody has to win and somebody has to lose.
I love it when athletes give the glory and praise to God when they win, but I get very nervous when they say God “gave them” the win. I am not really sure what God’s attitude is toward the nonsense that will be going on in China, but I am sure He will still be quite busy tending to far more urgent needs arising in every country represented. Can and will He help an athlete win a gold medal? That is His call and I defer the answer to that question to Him.
People love spectacles. They love the halftime show during the Super Bowl and the hoopla of Oscar night. For some reason, totally beyond me, people love parades and festivals of all sorts and types. People love the thrill of sitting in a huge stadium when it erupts after their team scores a touchdown, a goal or someone hits a homerun.
Many people live for the “rush” found in jumping out of an airplane, rafting down a river or climbing up and down a mountain. Taken to the next level, some people feel life is not worth living unless they can dive off a thousand foot cliff, ride the surf of an approaching hurricane or jump out of a helicopter and hit the slopes skiing. For those whose purpose in this life is limited to their next adrenaline rush; life becomes nothing but a quest for more and more dangerous activities.
Many of the greatest spectacles ever recorded were not viewed at the time as such. When the children of Israel watched as Moses parted the Red Sea, they did not erupt in cheers of “Moses, Moses” as he led them to victory. They were far too scared looking over their shoulders at the approaching Egyptian army to appreciate the miracle that had taken place in front of them.
When Jesus’ disciples were able to feed thousands with a few fish and loaves of bread, there was no yelling and screaming and whooping and hollering going on. The attitude of those present was one of appreciation for the food and not high fiving each other and head butting the dude next to him. Even though the people witnessed a miracle, it was met with thankfulness.
Sporting events have been around for thousands of years. There is nothing wrong with participating in athletics per se. What is wrong is when the game climbs out of the sphere in which it belongs and takes on a life in and of itself. When the game becomes the means to fame and wealth beyond comprehension, then there is a line that has been crossed. Sporting events are games, whether individual or team, and need to be kept in the proper perspective.
Athletic events long ago transitioned into the realm of spectacles. The very reason for life for many fans is to watch and root for their favorite gladiators as they do battle with the dreaded enemy down the road or across the ocean. When watching an NFL game it is ludicrous to see the extent people make fools of themselves as they root for their team. Dying one’s hair or skin to match the team colors is stupid. Sporting events are nothing but a game, or they were supposed to be.
Years ago I used to enjoy watching gymnastics and skating during the Olympics. Then I did research into what parents put their children through in order to pursue the gold medal dream. These kids have no life except in the training facilities where they are driven to get better and better at all costs. Interestingly, this is a phenomenon predominantly prevalent with girls. Boys are driven to become the best at football, basketball and baseball.
If someone were to ask me why I am not a fan of sports for the most part; here is my answer in a nutshell. I see kids being “sold out” by their parents to the athletic monster. Under the guise of becoming good enough to win a medal, scholarship or contract; kids are exploited and used at incredibly young ages to fulfill the desires of their parents. Kids are shoved into competitive sports at ages when they should be still playing cowboys and indians and not putting on expensive uniforms which say they are the “Indians”.
Many kids spend as much (or more) of their life practicing and participating in sports than sitting in the classroom. Parents spend as much of their life driving their children to various practices and games as they do working their job. It seems that unless the kids are involved in some type of athletic endeavor every month of the year, they are missing out on the real life.
In the words of Solomon; vanity, vanity all is vanity. I have little or no tolerance towards parents who give their children to the ravenous wolves found in all sorts of athletics to be eaten and devoured. I am not talking about organized sports for kids who are old enough to WANT to participate; I am talking about parents who force their kids to become involved in athletics when they are three or four years old so they will become so good that later they will win the gold medal or get a 250 million dollar contract.
I am sorry, but I have seen too much ugliness over the years to believe in the “purity” of athletics. Every sport is tainted with illegal drug use by many of its superstars. Every sport has it’s thugs and ugly people who would eat their own child if it got them a victory. Every sport is laden with arrogant and pampered superstars who think the universe should revolve around them. Every sport has fanatics supporting it who throw reason to the wind and spend money they do not have to either go to games or bet on them.
I really do wish all the athletes well in the upcoming games. I especially wish those Christians who have not sold their souls or bodies to the gods of fame and fortune Godspeed. I pray they do well and that they give God the glory if they do. I pray that those who have not succumbed to performance enhancing drugs or other forms of cheating win in every event. I pray that those who have sold their lives to their governments or trainers repent and get their lives back. Let the games begin.