Sporting games and activities throughout the ages have given athletes and fans opportunities to demonstrate skills, highlight expertise, provide physical and emotional outlets and entertain. Although the number of participants in organized sports has increased, it’s becoming less to do with the fun and challenge of learning a new skill and more to do with a parent’s dream of a college scholarship, professional career, financial success and their own reputation.
The win-at-all cost mentality leads to cheating, breaking rules, scandal, pride, greed doping and anger. “Leagues that try to teach parents ethics and good sportsmanship are wasting their time until they deal with the real problem, and that is dialing back on our win-at-all-costs sports culture,” said Dr. Bruce B. Svare, the director for the National Institute for Sports Reform. “Kids need to have fun, participate and learn skills. These things should always trump the desire to win when we are talking about youth sports. But adults, coaches, league administrators, etc. won’t let this happen because their own needs get in the way.”
In the past young people were taught values ranging from fitness, cooperation, teamwork, and perseverance to sportsmanship as moral endeavor. All of that seems somehow archaic and quaint today. We have let culture, rather than Scripture define our priorities and passions, after all who has time to read and study the Bible with all the sporting events our kids are involved in. Playing sports to the glory of God must be primary; athletic ability and achievements must be secondary. And that means every time we step onto the field our priority will be to worship God, apply the gospel to our hearts, and become more like Christ.
There is only one kind of a life that truly succeeds, and that is the one that places your faith in the hands of the Savior. Until that is done, we are on an aimless course that runs in circles and goes nowhere. Material possessions, winning scores, and great reputations are meaningless in the eyes of the Lord, because He knows what we really are and what we really can be, and that is all that really matters.
America needs to become balanced in its attitude toward sports. Paul wrote, “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come”1 Tim. 4:8.
We enjoy watching sports, but let us remember how little sports really matters and concentrate on godliness.
David Nowak is a Weatherford resident and frequent contributor to Viewpoints.