The editors at Christianity Today gently teased each other as we prepared this issue. You may recall that we ran a cover essay titled "Why We Love Football" in September 2008. In that article, author Eric Miller extolled the virtues of the gridiron game. We thought of titling this issue's cover story, "Just Kidding: Why We Hate Football."
Of course, the 2008 essay was not about why CT editors love football (though a few of us do), and this issue's essay is not CT's official stance on football, let alone sports. As kinesiology professor Shirl James Hoffman points out in "Whatever Happened to Play?", sports have a huge cultural presence and affect the lives and livelihoods of millions. For this reason alone, they are a subject fit for Christian thinking. And as with most cultural phenomena, we can see in it the hand of God and the work of the Devil. Miller did a great job of highlighting the blessings of sport. Hoffman does a great job of pointing out its curses. Christian involvement has not always led to the betterment of sports, but often to the detriment of Christians.
The CT editorial wing is not just full of journalism nerds, but includes a few genuine athletes as well. Some staff have experienced the highs and lows of sports culture. I played varsity baseball in high school, and until my knees gave out, enjoyed playing basketball in my community's 46 Years Plus league. Senior associate editor Mark Moring is the most authentic jock among us, having played tennis and basketball in high school, followed by a stint as a sports reporter in Florida. Since Mark and I oversaw the cover story, you can be sure we are not suggesting that Christians abandon sports.
But Hoffman's argument is strong. Because his case will be controversial, ...1