Finding God's Winning Spirit

Sports Revival (Part Three)

May 5, 2014 | Greg Smith | Sports


I entitled this three-part blog Sports Revival because for us to be able to regain control of sports in is country it will take nothing short of a revival. The first two blogs addressed the warning signs of "sports out of control" and we now need to talk about a way back.

The New Testament constantly tells us to live our lives in balance which means purposeful living based on priorities and perspective – living in moderation. It is quite clear that when it comes to sports we have confused and/or ignored God's advice. Without being heavy handed here – we have idolized sports which quite frankly, from a Christian point of view, equates to sin. This is why I have chosen the word revival as a solution.

It is clear to me that when it comes to sports that priority and perspective are out the window. We're going to have to recommit ourselves to those things that matter and live our lives focused on the things that bring us real value as opposed to the empty promises of the world. Sports was never intended to be an end in itself but rather an activity based on recreation, celebration and joy.  We have perverted it by turning it into power, ego, prestige, greed and pretty much every other characteristic of our fallen nature. We need revival. 

Sure, there are some empirical things that we can do to help bring sports back to where it should be. We can encourage our high schools to have more than one varsity team (the US Olympic bobsled team has USA-1, USA-2, USA-3 etc.).  This will allow more kids the opportunity to play sports on high school teams. City and state championships could include city recreation league teams as part of playoff system which would allow kids to compete outside the high school system. We could require coaches to be certified, not only as coaches, but as mentors and counselors as well.

One movement that seems to be growing in this country is the rise of athletic programs in large churches. Some churches have as many as 1500 kids participating in all sports. Perhaps someday there'll be a blending of competition on the state level of secular and Christian teams and programs (this is been taking place in softball for years i.e. church leagues versus city leagues).

No matter what efforts are put forth to moderate sports it is going to come down to parents. Somehow we are going to have to sell sports moms and dads on the notion that sports obsession is detrimental and dangerous. Many parents are vicariously living through their children (ever see Dance Moms on TV).  Other parents use sports as baby sitters while still others say sports keeps their child busy and away from the bad things in life (drugs, smoking and the opposite sex). All these parents will have to look inside themselves and ask the hard question about who is really driven by sports and who is really benefiting. In other words, what is so important about sports that we as adults would prostitute our child’s health and general well-being?

We need revival. We need to see sports through the eyes of our faith as we do everything else – never putting anything above Christ. This is the foundation of Sports Theology and the new ministry of which I am involved called Sports Theology Institute. The message here is that in sports we need, as we do in all things, to glorify God with the gifts we have been given. It is through this entity that we hope to teach parents and young men and women to play sports for the pure enjoyment of it and to glorify God through the athletic gifts which have been given.

Sports theology proposes that if athletes will embrace the Christian faith they will begin to see competing as a privilege and a way to demonstrate their God-given talents.  The Christian athlete sees sports in perspective and views competition as celebration – an end in itself. To play the game for the joy of it, and glorify God while doing it, is a powerful combination. In my opinion we as parents need to spend more time teaching this than spending quarters at the batting cages.   

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