“It is as sport to a fool to do wickedness, and so is wisdom to a man of discernment.”(Proverbs 10:23)
Inspired by Kurt Warner’s recent accusations that he was benched because of his religion, ESPN’s Robert Lipsyte writes about Sports, God & Religion.
Nothing really new here. Some players like to invoke the name of the Lord before they go out to who knows what. On the other hand, some owners are suspicious of players who (halilah) believe in a power greater than football. Reading this article, I’m reminded how similar this community of worshipers mimics almost every religious community.
I’m sure there are plenty of professional athletes devoted to their respective faiths. Others merely pay lip-service because it sounds good to other people and they demonstrate some degree of humility. How many people do we know of sit on either side of this mehitza?
I also find interesting is the jihad aspect of football. Whoever has more faith, has God on their side, and therefore deserves to win. Dennis Miller had a great line (not quoted by Lipsyte for some reason): “the winning team always has God on their side, but no one ever says ‘Jesus made me fumble.'” It’s easy to thank God when things are going well, but how often do we see the hand of God in the bad as well?
From what I’ve seen, the Lord is invoked in football more than other sports. This could be because of shortened season, heightened intensity, or following George Carlin – baseball is just wimpy. With fewer and more intense games, football players will understandably be more emotional than after one of the many insignificant baseball games.
Of course, all athletes get emotional at the end of the season. Players thank God for a good season or for the opportunities they had. It’s a time of reflection and retrospection where players reevaluate themselves and prepare for the future season (or retirement). For intents and purposes, this is the end of their year and the off-season is a time for renewal and optimism. We shouldn’t be surprised then that athletes have their own “Rosh Hashana” rituals.
It’s easy to mock athletes for irrational, inconsistent, or insincere faiths. Just realize that underneath the pads and multi-million dollar contracts, they’re just people like everyone else. And the flaws we see in them, might very well be the flaws we refuse to see in ourselves.

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