I’ve had a long streak of theologically themed entries, so I thought I’d mix it up this week. Today I’m writing about observations on sports, and my relationship with them. Feel free to stop reading here if this doesn’t interest you, though I will make fun of pop sports culture as much as possible and dive into to the “theology” of sport.
My dad knows as much about American sports as any man I’ve ever personally met. One of his favorite games is having one of his kids randomly open his enormous baseball almanac to any random page. The reader then recites the team and the year on the page and my dad has to name as many players and stats as he can.
Son – “Pittsburg 1942”
Dad – “Alf Anderson, Bob Elliot, etc…”
My dad, like many American kids (especially from generations that lived through the Cold War), hated soccer growing up. He was a baseball, football, hockey, and basketball man. When I was a kid I remember my dad calling soccer communist kickball. In my early youth I fell into line fairly naturally with my main sporting focus resting on baseball.
When my family moved to the Philippines in 1997 things shifted a bit for me. The other missionary kids that lived in our city thought baseball was stupid and that soccer was the greatest thing in the world. This was a bit of a shock to my system. I’d grown up in a baseball honoring, soccer bashing community and suddenly found myself thrust into a soccer adoring, baseball dissing culture. What was I to do? My friends hated my favorite game and I was pre-programmed against theirs.
Eventually I compromised and decided I liked both.
I have now concluded that I love every sport. If it has a ball, I like it. Australian rules football? Yes. Water polo? Indeed. And, I actually have a difficult time getting along with anyone who hates any one sport in particular. I don’t understand their bias. It’s unreasonable.
Recent Priority Shift:
Traditionally my sports watching priorities ranked something like this.
1. St. Louis baseball Cardinal games
2. NFL games
3. NHL games
4. Any other sport
More Recently my priorities have shifted to something like this.
1. St. Louis baseball Cardinal games
3. Almost any soccer game (including MLS)
4. NFL (somewhat distant fourth)
The NFL has finally reached the point where it is more about the production, the personalities, the endless shows and Twitter reporters dedicated to it than it is about the sport of football. NFL pop culture is literally suffocating. I love football; I’m beginning to resent the NFL.
The utterly pathetic “elite” quarterbacks conversation:
I am so sick of sports writers and reporters talking about “elite” quarterbacks. I would be willing to bet a considerable amount of my considerable fortune that the term “elite quarterback” has been used at least 25 times everyday on ESPN since the NFL season started…two years ago.
I challenge whoever has made it thus far into my rant to turn off their t.v. or radio whenever you hear that phrase for the next week. Your recreational sporting time will suddenly free up entirely!
Talking head – “Is Eli Manning an “elite quarterback”?”
Responding talking head – “Well, my top five are Rogers, Brees, Brady, Payton and Schaub.”
Third talking (twitter) head – “How can you leave Roethlisberger out? He is definitely elite! #tailgate!”
You know the conversation. Over played, overproduced, irrelevant.
Why are we obsessed with the word “elite”? Has every synonym for elite suddenly quit the English language?
In my opinion Rogers is the “best”. Brady is the “choicest”. The Manning bros are the “top”. Brees is “select”.
But Tebow? Now, Tebow is “elite”!
The most passionate Julie gets about sports is when Tebow is referenced. She is so sick of hearing about him that she has recently threatened to smash our t.v. I love her passion.
Jim Rome has gone from ESPN to NBC Sports to Showtime in like 23 minutes. By next month he’ll be on MTV. Good riddance.
The art of sport:
Sport, at its best, is art with a lot of movement. I hear people complain about how boring watching golf is. Golf is one of the most artistic of all sports. I’m not just talking about the beauty of the courses either. The shots, the angles, the spins, the chips and drives are the art of the game.
I think this is why I have grown to love basketball so much over the last few years. It’s beautiful art. It really is. I don’t think that is an overstatement. If someone reads that and scoffs, I challenge them outright…to a duel.
I’ve found basketball to be so beautiful that I don’t even mind the outrageous and ridiculous personalities and egos of the NBA (Kobe, Lebron and Dwight). The beauty of the game is bigger than them.
Art is the hope of men and sports brainwashed by competition:
As an athlete and a worship leader, I believe that sports are meant to be a physically and mentally worshipful experience. The problem is that we have been brainwashed to believe that sports are fundamentally based in competition. There is a checklist of items every man wants to check off when he is playing a sport.
Am I doing well?
Am I scoring?
Am I being cheated?
Are there girls watching?
The answers to these questions then define us. If we are “doing well” our manhood is confirmed. If not…we usually get violent and sulky.
Worship can never be based in competition. Worship is based in beauty enjoyed. Our current understanding of sport is two-dimensional. We need a fuller dimensional understanding of athletics to enjoy its true worth.
Playing without keeping score:
I want to try playing sports without keeping score. I’m not sure how to do it though. How do you get a bunch of men together (brainwashed by competition) to play a sport together, as well and hard as they can, without points or score being tallied?
I don’t know.
But, I know that I love me some ball.