Last week I wrote about how Christians might respond to the sports idolatry practiced "out there" in the larger culture. That was an easy target. This week, I'd like to think about the baseball bats in our own our eyes.
At the dawn of the 21st century, we find ourselves immersed in a culture drowning in sports. A whole section of the daily newspaper, and entire weeklies, are dedicated to reporting on it. Cable channels broadcast games 24/7/365. Sports fuels our nation's economy; one example: CBS paid the NCAA $6 billion (yes, that's a b) for the rights to televise March Madness for 11 years). Companies use athletes to sell products, and community organizations use sports stars to promote character. Our language is littered with sports metaphors ("you knocked that presentation out of the park"), and pop culture instantaneously adopts the latest athletic choreography (from high fives to chest bumps to the tugging of jerseys).
Christians have long ago given up being concerned about all this. The movie Chariots of Fire portrayed what used to be a genuine struggle for many Christians: whether to participate in a sporting event on Sunday, the common day of rest and worship for Christians. Today the movie seems quaint, and the first reaction of Christian and non-Christian alike to Eric Liddell's dilemma is, "Lighten up, Eric. Just go to the early service!" These days many Christian athletes play only on Sundays, and are watched by millions of other Christians who rush home from church (or even skip church if necessary) to watch them play.
Sunday sports is not the issue here. This shift simply suggests that we are so immersed in a sports culture now that it is tough to gain perspective. It also suggests that, given the environment, ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more