The Religion of Sports
At no other time in the history of this country has the fever for athletics been as high as it is today, especially in this country. There have and are today, many rabid fans all over the world for all kinds of different sports. But on the whole, more people are enjoying some form of athletic activity than ever before.
The attraction reaches a high point in the fall and spring of the year when many of the sports overlap. In the fall, football holds the spotlight, but basketball is starting and baseball is in the middle of playoffs. Hunting and fishing are at their best and most other activities from golf to tennis continue to attract a large following.
Sports are good for the most part. For the fans it provides exciting entertainment. Many sports, like football have great season rituals, adding to community life. For the participants in all sports it means added self discipline and confidence, increased physical powers, and healthy exercise of competitive spirit.
Recreational sports have been with us for 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 respect, the interest in sports is good fora nation or the world in general.
But as in all good things, there is a need for mediation and responsibility in our recreational pursuits. If some unknowing visitor came to this country between September and April, he could conclude that the national "religion" is football or basketball. Unfortunately they have, in fact, become the only "worship" service many persons attend.
Sports have every characteristics of a formal religious movement. They have their gods (super heroes), its scribes, (sports writers and commentators). Its houses of worship (Texas Stadium). For the critics of expensive church buildings, they must understand that they pale in comparison to the expensive sports complexes. And sports have one other feature that traditional churches have long lost in American society, massive throngs or highly vocal "true believers".
We can say there is nothing wrong with sports. They provide some great entertainment. But they will do so only as long as we maintain our prospective and do not let them replace our "religion".
Pastor Hans Lillejord