In Defense of Sports

defensesportmainLast week I had the chance to sit down with some of the team at Desiring God to talk about how Christians should interact with sports. During the conversation we briefly touched on how easily sports can become an idol, whether it's as an athlete or fan or a parent of an athlete. Overall, though, we explored how Christians can be involved in sports and the goodness of sports in culture as an expression of God's creativity and the gifts he's given people.

One Facebook commenter responded to the podcast with a perspective that many people share -- sports seems "like a whole other religion." He went on to describe the amount of excitement and money people pour into sports and how that ought to be poured into "the true battle we live in," such as healing the sick, feeding the poor, and saving souls. He makes the point that sports clearly aren't as important as these things.

This perspective is quite common and deserves a thoughtful response. At first blush it has merit, but it is not entirely accurate. Let me take his objections one by one.

"Sports is its own religion"

As we discussed on the podcast, sports can easily become an idol. But that does not make it an inherently bad thing. Money can be an idol. So can music; attend any concert and you will find worshippers there. Or family. Anything that we devote ourselves to can become an idol which can then become a religion; that is, it can become something which gives structure to our lives and determines our values. But the human ability to make idols out of anything does not make those things bad. And sports contain enormous good as a reflection of God's creative power and the unique abilities he has poured into people as athletes, coaches, strategists, broadcasters, journalists, and more.

[Read the rest of the article at Desiring God.]