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God and Football

Along with a lot of other people I watched the BCS National Championship Game last night.  Neither team was “my team,” but as a college football fan it was must see TV.  The game wasn’t the best.  It was sloppy and although the score was close it felt for the entire second half that one team was going to win.  At the end of the game I usually turn quickly from the interviews, because frankly, they bore me.  However, I watched this time.  And then I was frustrated.

You see players and coaches alike attributed the win to God.  Not in a way in which they were thanking God for life and talents, but rather in the sense (at least it appeared to me) of believing that God was in control of the outcome of the game, or that the Almighty had a cheering interest for one team.  I have always been frustrated with this idea.  Sports are fun to watch and play. They also can teach important life lessons (I know they did for me).  However, we need to put both the watching and playing of sports into a proper perspective.  I think God cares how we compete, but to say that He is rooting for one team over another to me hinges on idolatry.  It goes to show the overemphasis that our culture puts on Sports and Athletes when we view them as events that show us the mind of God.

I know this comes off as somewhat of a rant, but I hope that it is taken as a reality check.  Let’s enjoy athletics for what they are, but let’s not make them more than what they are.  God’s primary desire is still the reconciliation of the world to Himself.  If sports can aide in that then so be it, but I’m not convinced heaven was screaming War Eagle last night.

What is your take?

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10 Comments

  1. I would have to agree with your article. I too am an avid college football fan and love everything about the game. However, it has always bothered me when atheletes who are on the winning team and let me emphasize winning attribute their win to God. On the other hand God is nowhere in the picture or sentence when the same team and athlete loses. I certainly don’t believe God is a sports fan but I do believe He is with us and for us (Rom. 8:31) no matter what our accomplishment or failure. We must make sure that we always give God the glory whether we are standing on top of the mountain or kneeling in the valley.

    valley.

  2. Wesley

    January 11, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Good point, Larry. The logical conclusion to saying that God caused the win is to also say that God caused the loss and thus both winners and losers should be willing to accept that conclusion.

  3. Very good thoughts, Wesley: thoughts I share completely. Such statements show just how trivial some people’s view of God really is. It’s just strange to me that with all of the trash-talking, taunting, cursing, and other things that go on, both on the field and on the sidelines during most football games, that anyone could come away from any game thinking that God was in any way involved in helping either team win.

    I love college football, but let’s forget about any assumptions about God’s involvement in the game’s outcome.

  4. Wesley

    January 11, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Thanks Kevin. College Football is great, as long as we keep it in perspective.

  5. Good thoughts, bro. Definitely on the same page with you.

    I’ve been frustrated by the phenomenon all season. I’m sure any attempts I make to address it come across as a sour Alabama fan, though.

    You mentioned the consistency factor related to other teams (ie, does he choose for others to lose?). I think that’s strong. I also think it’s interesting to apply it consistently to their own team. What about all the years they’ve went without a title? Would they argue it’s God’s fault they haven’t won in 53 years? (I know they wouldn’t, but think consistency would force their hand.) And what about next season if/when they have a few losses…are those God’s fault?

    Thanks for your post & your attitude with the issue.

  6. How great would it be to see a player on the losing team thank God for the loss and the lesson that they might learn from losing the game (humility, perseverence, etc.)? Refreshing.

  7. Collin Stringer

    January 11, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    Cam Newton did say that he was thankful for God for taking something bad and turning it into something good. This is a biblical truth (Rom. 8:28) that could be said by anyone after a loss. For example, “This was a tough loss, but I believe God will somehow bring something good out of it.”

    I would think, though, that many people (mostly anti-Auburn fans) would see the bad thing being cheating by Cam’s family and the good thing being God rewarding the cheating. This reminds me of my childhood when I couldn’t fathom God blessing those dirty, rotten Steelers with victory over my worthy Minnesota Vikings. 🙂

  8. Wes: I helped coach the Jr High baseball team at MTCS up through last season. It was our practice to have a pre-game prayer. The very first game I would always give a short lecture, “God doesn’t care who wins this game — He cares how you handle yourself on the field when things are good and when things are bad.” I always got a few wide-eyed stares — but they never prayed “please God, if it be Your will, let us win”. It may be a bit of blasphemy but I always followed the prayer with my favorite Bobby Knight quote — “Victory favors the team that makes the fewest mistakes”.

  9. Wesley

    January 13, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    I think you have the right attitude John. God is concerned with what His children do and every arena of life and we should make sure players and coaches understand as much. I like competition and I think we should work hard toward winning, but I think we should use it as a place for character development.

  10. Competition means there’s a winner and a loser. Blessing can come from experiencing either depending on one’s attitude. God may not care who wins. But I know He cares about the attitudes in the heart of each player and coach and fan. Perhaps in God’s infinite wisdom He determined more good will result from a particular outcome in a agame. By good I mean the change or growth winning or lossing causes within the people involved. And even if this isn’t the case and God withholds His influence on a game, He still deserves praise and thanks from everyone because everything is given by God. Whether God is the diret cause or simply allows it to happen He is God and deserves our praise and recognition. When a player is interviewed and he attributes the victory to God, the player is acting consistent with the Christian faith. If a player is on the losing side and thanks God he also is acting consistent with the faith and in fact is displaying a greater faith because it isn’t easy to thank God for difficulties in life.

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