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Coaches Sports Philosophy Network

Growing up, I lived for sports.  It didn’t matter the game—I was in!  All in!  The thrill of victory, the rivalry between opponents, the desire to succeed, and the cheers from fans were, at the time, what fueled my drive to compete.  It didn’t matter the season or the sport; I wanted to play.

 

Through my high-school years, I was privileged to experience what many would see as success.  But I can clearly remember an empty feeling that would overwhelm me after the cheers from the fans had ceased and the awards had been handed out.  I remember thinking: “This is it?  This is what first place feels like?”  Yet, despite this feeling, I would push for the next achievement—I would train harder, go to another camp, join another league—in order to experience what I thought was the thrill of victory.  Little did I know that my imagination had created an illusion of success that could never be attained—no matter how great the accomplishment.

 

Unfortunately, my desire back then was driven by wrong motives.  I wanted to succeed so that I could look good; it was all about me.  It was not until I was in my college years that I began to grasp a bigger purpose for athletics.  A purpose that is far superior to any human accolades or earthly achievements—a goal, that once understood, leads me to proclaim that, for the believer, sports are much more than a game.  I have come to understand that sporting events provide the believer with scenarios for glorifying God.  Every athletic opportunity for the Christian is an opportunity to magnify our great God.  Let me highlight just a few of the opportunities that God, in His grace, has allowed me to experience through my athletic endeavors—opportunities that I pray and desire to be seized each and every time I participate in an athletic contest regardless of whether I am a contestant, referee, coach, or spectator.

  • Athletics can serve as an opportunity for the believer to maintain the body that God has given to us.  Remember, there is some profit in exercise (1 Tim. 4:8).
  • Sports venues provide occasions for Christians to develop godly habits.  Hard work (Col. 3:23), teamwork (Phil. 1:27; Rom. 12:16), punctuality (Eccl. 3:1), proper response to authority (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:13-17), perseverance (2 Cor. 4:8, 9; 16-18), loyalty (Jn 15:13), self-control (1 Cor. 9:22; Gal. 5:24, 25; Prov. 21:23), and the list could go on.  This can happen in one of two ways.  Either an existing positive trait will be built upon, or a negative quality will be revealed through athletics that can then be corrected and replaced with the God-honoring quality.  Sports, in my opinion, are one of the best opportunities for this type of discipleship—but we will save that argument for another blog post.
  • Building on the previous point, athletics allow us a venue for God’s children to display a Christ-like life.  Don’t forget, we are to be distinct from the world and this “otherness” can be used as an attractant to the Gospel (Mt. 5:13-16).
  • Sports allow us avenues for quickly and easily developing relationships.  Friendships established with other believers provide outlets for demonstrating the commands and patterns of the New Testament (Acts 2:42; Heb. 10:24).  On the flip side, athletics allow believers to, almost effortlessly, build bridges into the lives of those who need Christ.  As this happens, we have the opportunity and obligation to carry out the Great Commission (Mt. 28: 18-20).

 

But, as any athlete knows, opportunities must be exploited.   Nothing is gained if a defender gives us a shot and we fail to take it.  There is no advantage to be had if we neglect to execute a swift counter attack.  The same is true with the spiritual opportunities that await the believer.  There will be no eternal gain as a result of our sports if we are not intentionally seizing the opportunities that are placed before us. 

Opportunities abound in abundance.  Opportunities that will lead to eternal rewards—the kind that don’t leave me with the empty feeling of high-school days, but rather a satisfaction of knowing that God has been glorified through my participation in sports.  Let’s be ‘all in’ for the right reasons.

 

 

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Comment by Larry Reeder on November 15, 2013 at 10:26pm

Nicely stated Micah!   Thanks.

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