Friday, March 09, 2007

One Man's Love for Basketball: Lessons

I've learned a bunch from reflecting on my lifelong passion for basketball.

If the Lord gives my wife and me children, I will work hard to counteract the culture's trend to worship sports and the celebrities created by sports. I had long thought that I would train any boys I had to be basketball players. Though I'm sure I will play the game with them, I now have no intentions of holding up basketball as an end in itself. It would be great to pass along an appreciation for sports as a recreation, a pastime, but I have no desire for any sons I have to think that basketball or any other sport is important and fundamentally meaningful in itself. There is good in competition, and there can be meaningful interaction and that sort of thing, but as an activity, sport at its essence is play. It is not serious. It is not "real," in a sense. It is a bunch of people playing a game. I hope that my children will understand this.

Even now, as a husband and a family leader, I want to make sure that I put sports in their proper place. They are entertainment. As such, they should not interfere with my family's everyday life. Husbands, ask yourself these questions that I've thought about to evaluate our interest in sports:

  • Does your love of sports keep you from caring for your wife?
  • Does your love of sports keep you from caring for your children?
  • Does your love of sports keep you from meaningful involvement in your church?
  • Does your love of sports lead you to abuse your body? Do you stay up way too late to watch your favorite team?
  • Does your love of sports lead you to be irresponsible at work? Do sports keep you from working?
  • Does your love of sports consume your conversations? Does it prevent you from meaningful fellowship with Christians?
  • Does your love of sports lead you to mood swings?
  • Lastly, are you addicted to sports? Ask yourself that question honestly.

Single men should consider these questions, too, and answer these:

  • Do sports keep me from maturing? Do they keep me from taking economic responsibility for myself?
  • Do sports keep me from wanting to be married and being mature?
  • Do sports keep me from meaningful service to my church?
  • Do sports dominate my thoughts and prevent me from forming meaningful relationships with people?
  • Am I addicted to sports?

If you are like me, you will find your answers to some of these questions disturbing. You will find that you have allowed the culture to develop in you far more interest and to devote far more attention to sport than it deserves. If you are like me, you will find not simply isolated sins--"I watched that game for two hours and didn't do my homework"--but whole patterns of living that reflect an addiction, or at least an unhealthy devotion, to sports. If you are like me, you will end up a bit disgusted with yourself, but hopefully, men like us will realize that grace exists to help us in all our weaknesses and sins. And make no mistake about it--the overvaluing of sport by many of us is no less than sinful. Some participation in sports is good and healthy, and I intend to do so for the rest of my life. However, where we should be dedicated to our families, churches, employers, and country, we are dedicated to our favorite athletic celebrities. Where we should devote ourselves to meaningful work, we are dedicated to games. Where we should shape our culture, and lead it away from slavish devotion to athletics, we are ourselves shaped by it, living with minimal difference from the world in this area.

It may sound trite to say this, but it's not: may God help the men of His church to put sport in its proper perspective, to cease sinning through the exercise of sinful appetites, and to enjoy and prize that which is truly meaningful.


Blogger Brian said...

Thanks for the perspective that all men of God should heed. It takes a holy courage to speak things that may go against the grain of so many, including myself. You wrote with prophetic voice - but don't get too big a head on us!

3:43 AM  
Blogger Drick Boyd's Blog said...

As one who has loved the game of basketball almost twice as long as you have been alive and who still plays regularly today, I understand your fascination with the game and your struggle with its lure. The questions you raise are good ones, especially for men who still have the stamina to play several times a week. Such stamina left me a long while ago.

For me basketball and the health to play it, are gifts for which I am so thankful. When I play, I forget everything else for that hour or so. I come back sore but refreshed.

Keeping it in perspective is important, but I would urge not to be too hard on yourself or others, for in the right perspective, it is a true gift.

5:35 PM  

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