Sports & Fitness

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Dying to Win?

What price are you willing to pay for a victory? Some athletes are apparently willing to risk their lives.

Recently, 198 world-class athletes were asked this question:

You're offered a banned performance-enhancing substance, with two guarantees: 1) You won't get caught. 2) You will win. Would you take the substance?

The answer: 195 said yes, 3 said no.

Then they were asked:

You're offered a banned performance-enhancing substance, with two guarantees: 1) You won't get caught. 2) You'll win every competition for the next five years, and then you'll die from the side effects of the substance. Would you take it?

More than half said yes.

I couldn't believe it. But it got me wondering: How far are we willing to go to get that edge?

According to a Sports Illustrated story, many Olympic athletes have found ways to cheat by beating the tests that detect banned substances—like steroids. But the story doesn't stop with Olympians. I've heard of high school football players doing steroids.

But it's not just drugs. I've known high school coaches who encourage their teams to play dirty. I've seen high school tennis players cheat when making line calls. I've seen high school athletes go far beyond putting on a confident "game face" to the point of using nasty intimidation tactics to "psych out" an opponent. The list goes on.

So all of us who compete need to ask ourselves: How far am I willing to go to win?

It might be easy to rule out something as dangerous as steroids. But what about something "relatively" harmless? What if you were playing the tennis player mentioned above, and you knew she was cheating on line calls? What harm could there be in making just one bad call yourself? Wouldn't it "teach her a lesson"?

Of course, you know the answer: It's just wrong. No matter the circumstances.

But in the heat of competition, it's pretty easy to cross that line. So we've got to constantly remind ourselves to stay honest, to stay pure, to walk the straight path.

Pray before you play. Ask a teammate to hold you accountable for your actions and words during the game. Show good sportsmanship.

Play hard, play well, and play fair. Give it everything you've got. And, as the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:24, "Run your race to win!"

But most importantly, win or lose, run with honor, as one representing Jesus Christ.


Bradley Lindblom. Brad, now a freshman at Azusa Pacific University, was a three-sport star at Berean Christian High School in Walnut Creek, California. In football, he was a running back and team MVP. In basketball, he won the senior leadership award as a guard. And in baseball, he was the team's top pitcher and hitter. Brad, who will play baseball at Azusa, had a life-changing experience the summer before his freshman year in high school, when he shattered his kneecap in a bike accident. "I thought I would never play sports again," he says. "I was so depressed. I realized that something was missing in my life. So I just prayed, and gave my life to the Lord. That's when I started letting the Lord lead me in everything."

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