So to start out, this is a hilarious video. If this describes you, or a loved one, it’s likely you should continue reading…
This post has a tongue-in-cheek element to it, but as a recovering sports nut myself, it’s also meant to be taken seriously. Too often we can rationalize sinful or idolatrous behavior “because it’s sports,” as if sports were a trump card to do or think whatever we want.
5 Ways to Tell if Your Sports Fandom Needs to be Checked:
1. You get angry during the game. You throw things. You punch things. You yell. A lot. Your children are afraid of you.
2. You get angry after the game. Your day is ruined because your team lost. Real life things like your outlook on life, your relationship with your spouse, your kids and others are negatively affected because a group of people who have no clue who you are didn’t score as many goal-baskets as the group with the other colored shirts on. And you can’t handle this. So you take it out on life and all those around you.
3. You objectify athletes. Typically we only think of objectification of women as something that we should avoid. What’s the problem with objectification? Objectification takes someone who is human and it makes them into something that isn’t human. It takes someone and makes them less human. Humans have a certain level of innate God-given dignity and value. Instead of seeing a person with this dignity and value, objectification sees them as an object for me to consume for my pleasure. Honestly ask yourself, do you see athletes as human beings who are fallible, make mistakes, have feelings, and have a sense of value to them as people, or do you simply see them as commodities? Are you happy when the team you’re playing in fantasy football loses their best player to injury? Do you gleefully race to the waiver wire to try to pick up their backup? Or do you think about the injured player, how painful that injury must be, how brutal the recovery will be, and how he just lost his ability to get his big contract extension. You probably don’t care about any of those things. If it’s a team you like, you just hope his backup is halfway decent so your team doesn’t lose the game or have a bad season. Jerry Seinfeld gives helpful commentary here:
“But it’s sports,” you say. It’s harmless. Typically, objectifying human beings is never a good pattern to get into. It takes you far from reality, which isn’t a good place to live. It teaches you humans aren’t humans, which isn’t a switch you can just turn on and off.
4. You rip on athletes in everyday conversation – Imagine if someone at your workplace made an error. They forgot to staple something. They miscalculated some numbers. How would you talk about them? How would you want people to talk about you if you were the one to make the error? It probably wouldn’t be excusable to rip someone up and down, call them worthless, or to wish death upon them. And you certainly wouldn’t want people saying or thinking these things about you when you mess up. But why is it when a quarterback throws a football and the other team catches it, we immediately yell out such things at him? But it doesn’t stop there. We go online. We make up condescending nicknames. We call him things like “worthless” and “a waste of space.” “But it’s sports, it’s harmless.” Really? A Christian friend of mine who played on a major Big Ten college football team had to delete all of his social media accounts after getting death threats from people because they wanted him benched. Was that harmless? Was that “just sports” for him? The fact is, 99.99% of the country couldn’t do any better. But because fans can’t do any better, they feel entitled to throw all kinds of horrible things at those who can, but who aren’t perfect like fans think they should be. We are messed up people.
5. You worship athletes – If a guy drops a ball, he gets death threats. If he catches a ball, he gets worshiped. It’s a ball. What’s more important: being a good dad or being a good point guard? What’s more important: having integrity or having a 4.3 second 40 yard dash? What’s more important: putting others above yourself or putting up enough stats for your fantasy team to win? If your favorite athlete walked into the room, how would you react? “But it’s sports.” So does that make it okay to worship someone? Does it make it okay to not care about things that actually matter as long as someone is good at putting a ball over a goal line? Who is more impressive to you: your favorite player, or Jesus? Who would you rather meet in person? Who do you get more excited about? Who does your life revolve around?
Sports are fun, but a mature view of them understands they are completely meaningless in the scheme of things. Not only are they meaningless, they can also become detrimental to who you are as a person if you’re not careful.
But live in reality.