Editor's note: Starting this week, Play Ball will become a weekly feature on Christianity Today Online, and will be written by an extended team of writers. This week we welcome Mark Moring, a former sportswriter who now edits Christianity Today Movies and Christian Music Today.
I like to win. I've always been competitive, though here in my mid-40s some of that edge has dulled. I'm finding joy more in the game itself than in the final result. (Still, I did hate losing a recent marathon game of RiskLord of the Rings versionto my 12-year-old, whose impromptu and snarky Mount Doom Victory Dance only rubbed it in.)
When the Olympics roll around, I tend to examine my own competitive spirit, and that's certainly been the case the last couple of weeks as we've watched the eventsjoyful, painful, and even controversialunfold at the Winter Games in Italy.
I watch a fair bit of sports on TV, but nothing seems to trigger this self-examination like the Olympics. Why? I think it's partly a result of the way most of the media handles Olympic coverage. Open any sports section and right there, front and center, you'll see it: Medal Count. Or Medal Tracker.
Sure, I'm interested to see which countries are winning the most medals, but it's given far too much weight. I mean, when it's all said and done, do we really expect headlines that read, "Norway Wins Winter Olympics!"? I think not.
But more than the team medal count is the media's overemphasis on individual awards, as if the colors gold, silver, and bronze were all that mattered. I'm not aiming for a simplistic "it's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game" message here. I'm not launching into a "whatever happened to the real Olympic spirit" rant.
But I ...