The Religion of Sports
By the time this article reaches you, we probably will have been affected by the "Superbowl". Every year it seems we become more and more involved in our devotion and interest in sports. Most people are either involved in or avidly watch some form of physical competition.
This attraction to sports seems to be at the highest point in the fall or spring of the year when many of the professional; sports overlap. In the fall, baseball is wrapping up it's season, football is in full swing, hockey and basketball are beginning, hunting and fishing is at its best and most other activities like golf and tennis continue to attract attention.
For the most part, this is a good thing because it involves so many of us either as participants or spectators. For many, it is exciting entertainment. Some sports, like football, are annual community rituals, and add to a sense of community. For participants, on the other hand, in all sports it means added self-discipline and confidence, increased physical involvement and a healthy exercise of the competitive spirit.
Recreational sports have been with us a long time. The Lord was always an advocate of physical as well as spiritual strength, of a healthy body as well as a sound mind. In this sense the interest in sports has been good for our nation and communities.
But, as in all good things, there is a need for moderation and responsibility in our recreational pursuits. If some alien came from another planet they might well think that our national religion was football, baseball, golf or basketball. Unfortunately, they are the only "Worship" services many attend.
The writer, Harry Edwards, makes us aware of an interesting analogy. He says: "Sports manifest every characteristic of a formal, thriving religious movement. It has its gods (super star athletes), its scribes (the hundreds of sportscasters and writers), Its houses of worships (stadiums) that rival anything ever constructed to house traditional worship services). And sports have one other feature that traditional religion has long since lost in our society, the massive throngs of highly vocal "true believers".
There is nothing wrong with sports. They provided some of the great enjoyments of life. but they will do so only as long as we maintain our perspective and do not let them replace our "religion".
Rev. Hans Lillejord