Thursday, October 2, 2014

Sports - A Window Into Society

This is a short, self-serving post. Life has been busy and I haven't written for a while. As I reflect on the past few months in the sports world, I'm reminded the extent to which these athletes, who live in the spotlight, reflect the lives and challenges that we all face.

So far this year sports have gifted us with these topics of conversation:

  • April/NBA - Racist remarks by the owner of the LA Clippers, Donald Sterling, are recorded and leaked to the media. The resulting backlash from players and the public resulted in Sterling being forced to sell the Clippers franchise.
  • May/NFL - Michael Sam becomes the first openly gay player drafted in the NFL. In September he was signed to the practice squad of the Dallas Cowboys.
  • August/NFL - Ray Rice made a public apology after hitting his fiance. A few weeks later video of the incident was made public. As a result of the video Rice was dumped by the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the NFL. The resulting discussion has caused the NFL to radically change it's approach to domestic violence and launch a major education program for its teams and players.
  • September/NBA - More racial furor in the NBA as Atlanta Hawks GM Danny Ferry is recorded describing a player using racially derogatory terms.
  • September/NFL - Star running back, Adrian Peterson, is charged by Texas authorities for abusing his 4 year old son after a "whooping" with a switch resulted in substantial cuts and bruises.
  • September.Olympics - Olympic swimming superstar, Michael Phelps, was arrested for the second time for DUI.
  • October/NFL - The Dallas Cowboys wrestle with grace and forgiveness as Josh Brent returns to the team after 180 days in jail for killing his friend and teammate in an car accident while intoxicated.
So yes, I'm piggybacking on these terrible offenses (and I may have missed some) to highlight the value of blogs like God Meets Ball and the conversations they prompt.

There is a great likelihood that during the last few months the men in your church heard more about racism, parenting, and respecting their wives, on ESPN than they heard from their church all year.

The Bible contains so much teaching about loving our neighbours, and families, and it warns against the dangers of anger, alcohol and hate. Where do you want your church to receive its moral training?  How strongly do we want our men to hear God's standards rather than the opinions of media personalities pursuing ratings?

Further, just as the world of sports provides a lens into the homes of our communities, it reminds us of the challenges our families experience. Our members are touched to varying extents by racism, homosexuality, destructive parenting, and domestic violence. Our churches need to be places of truth, transparency and reality, not "putting on our Sunday best".
"Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."      1 Peter 3:3-4
 What venues does your church have to discuss issues like those raised above?

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