The (Tarnished) Glory of the Game

Thank you for "Whatever Happened to Play?" [February], Shirl James Hoffman's cover essay on Christianity and sports culture. Many athletes clearly honor God in the thrill of victory, yet the agony of defeat can teach us more about God's glory. During this year's Super Bowl, I was struck when the Indianapolis Colts' kicker, a Christian, pointed to the sky after both of his field goal attempts—one make and one miss.

It doesn't take a renewed heart to revel in athletic success; virtue and devotion amid failures on the field are powerful ways to demonstrate God's kingdom to a fallen world.

My response to Hoffman's essay: Chill out!

Just two of the countless examples of athletes who have brought souls into Christ's kingdom are Bill Glass, former defensive end for the Cleveland Browns, and Tim Tebow, quarterback for the Florida Gators. Both are using their "violent" game to witness to the Savior. Glass's lifelong witness for Jesus has won more fanatics for the gospel than for his team. Watch and see—Tebow will do the same.

Hoffman weakened his argument by downplaying the collegiality that sports can bring. Super Bowl parties create relationships that are often the first steps to life-changing witness. And there is such a thing as healthy competiveness. My wife and I recently bought an Xbox 360 so that we could spend more time playing with our adult sons. We play Halo 3, shooting each other for hours. Granted, it seems odd to celebrate our unity with simulated carnage, but it works because we know the difference between reality and play. We mix molehills with mountains when we assume that reasonable people easily confuse the two.

What would happen if Christians who spend the weekends wishing ...

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