(Turns out the interweb is jam packed with funny, insightful people. Sometimes I have the opportunity to introduce you to them. Today, Bryan Allain, a Jesus/Sports expert is joining the annals of Stuff Christians Like. Enjoy.)
Hello my fellow side-hugging, skittle-eating, prayer ninjas. Last month Jon asked me if I’d be interested in blogging a guest post here at SCL and I said “yes” so fast, my tongue tore it’s ACL and is out 10-12 months. Thankfully I don’t type with my tongue (anymore), and I was still able to put this post together for you.
One disclaimer before we jump in: If you hate sports like the devil hates you, I apologize in advance. I write about sports because they are a huge part of my life, and I feel there’s tons of lessons we can learn from them about how God wants us to live (so much so that I’m writing a book about it). So, if you’re idea of hell is a neverending junior high gym class where people play dodge ball, flag football, and floor hockey for the rest of eternity, just grit your teeth, roll your eyes, and try to get through this.
With that out of the way, here’s 7 Sports Myths that Christians Like:
1. Saying you love Jesus after a big win is always a good thing.
If you’re neighbor came over one day and asked you “Hey, your lawn looks great! What’s your secret?” and you replied, “Well, first I’d like to give praise to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Without Him grass wouldn’t even exist!” What would happen? Even if you followed up with, “I use a weed and feed every March and August and spray for grubs in July”, would your neighbor even be listening anymore? Chances are he’d be so caught off-guard by your impromptu confession of faith that he’d be backpedaling faster than an all-pro cornerback in man-to-man coverage.
Like it or not, context IS important. Yes truth is always truth, but context matters. Plus, there’s also something to be said for respecting the reporter who is trying to do their job and actually answering the question you were asked. I’m not saying athletes should never bring faith into the conversation, I’m just saying there’s more to sharing your faith than saying Jesus’ name whenever a microphone is shoved in your face. Too often it comes across as nothing more than a cheesy soundbite, and for every Christian who hears it and pumps their fist in approval, there’s probably 50 other folks who roll their eyes and change the channel.
2. The New Orleans Saints are The Most Christian Sports Franchise
Sure they were named, in part, because of the large Catholic population in New Orleans in the 1960s, but when it comes to Christian team names, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim stand head and shoulders above the rest. Remember, this is the franchise that once had a Disney movie made about their team that involved real angels (including Christopher Lloyd) helping the team win the A.L. Pennant. No other team, including the Saints, can lay claim to that.
But what seals the deal is their name. I only took one year of Spanish in junior high, but I’m pretty sure the English translation of “Los Angeles” is “The Angels”. This means their team name is literally “The Angels Angels of Anaheim”. With that ridiculous double-reference to heavenly harpists, they take the cake as the Most Christian Sports Franchise. (They would also lay claim to the title of Most Absurd Sports Team Name if it wasn’t for the existence of The Utah Jazz).
3. The referee is always right
The customer is always right. Google is always right. Your wife is always right.
The referee…not so much.
But even though the men and women in stripes screw up occasionally, we still need to handle ourselves on the field as ambassadors of Christ. In fact, the last time I looked through the Gospels, Jesus was telling his disciples to shake the dust off of their feet, not to kick it onto other people’s shoes when they blow a call. And those times when we feel compelled to holler at the referee for his poor eyesight? We should follow the example of Jesus, who had compassion for those who couldn’t see. It’s fine to disagree with the umpire, and usually there is a way to state your case with respect and class. Just don’t forget who you’re representing when you’re told to go sit back down on the bench and shut up.
4. Christians aren’t allowed to root for teams with devil mascots.
Contrary to popular belief, The New Jersey Devils of the NHL were not given their name because New Jersey is often referred to as “hell on earth”. They were actually named after a legendary creature called “The Jersey Devil” who is said to haunt the Pine Barrens of Southern New Jersey. In fact, most devilish mascots have a similar story behind their name. So take comfort fans of Arizona St., Duke, and Depaul; cheering for the Sun Devils, Blue Devils, or the Blue Demons is not aligning your soul with Sheol.
That being said, kudos to my mom for lobbying to get my brother’s grade school soccer team renamed from The Black Knights (clearly evil) to The Black Attackers (much less evil…and much cooler). True story.
5. You can be a Christian and attend Wake Forest University
The lone exception to myth #4 is Wake Forest University. Prior to 1923, Wake Forest’s sports teams competed as the Fighting Baptists. But leave it to a newspaper reporter to suggest that the team “fought like demons” in a win over Duke in 1923, which eventually led to the university adopting the Demon Deacon as their mascot. The scary part? Wake Forest never won a National Championship while competing as the Fighting Baptists, but since moving to the dark side the Demon Deacons have won 8 national championships in four different sports. Draw your own conclusions.
And while we’re here, what is a Demon Deacon anyway? Is it a deacon at your church who gets possessed by a demon? Or is it a demon from hell who takes the form of a human and joins your church, eventually earning enough respect from members of the congregation with his work on the usher team to be voted in as a deacon? Either way, you might not want to be wearing a Wake Forest hoodie when you stand before the pearly gates one day. Just a suggestion.
6. Our kids should play to have fun, not to win.
Garbage. Taking winning and losing out of sports is like taking the rainbow out of skittles. We need to let kids win and lose because they’re going to deal with the emotions that come from succeeding and failing all through their lives, and sports are a great place for them to become familiar with them.
Why sports? Because it’s only a game, but the lessons we learn in athletics are universal. Kids need to win because they need to learn how to succeed with grace and humility. So 10 years down the road when they get that coveted promotion over an equally qualified coworker, they handle themselves with class. Similarly, they need to learn how to fail with respect and dignity. They need to be able to put disappoint and rejection in proper perspective for the times later in life when they lose something more than just a game.
Besides, if we didn’t keep score at our kids’ games, what would we have to yell about from the sidelines?
7. God loves Penn State and the Cowboys
Living in Pennsylvania, I’ve been told numerous times that God HAS to be a Penn State fan because the sky is blue and white. I usually walk away from these conversations convinced that the use of hallucinogens is on the rise among college football fans. Do these folks realize that “Sky Blue” and “Nittany Lion Blue” are as far as you can possibly get away from each other on the Blue Scale? Do they think God is colorblind?
< br />Penn State fans aren’t the only ones who claim divine fandom. Fans of the Dallas Cowboys have long argued that the Cowboys are God’s team, citing the fact that there’s a hole in the roof over Texas Stadium so God can keep an eye on the action. What Cowboys fans fail to realize is that they are, in essence, saying God is not capable of seeing through man-made materials like steel and elastomer coatings. Feel free to remind them of this the next time one of them plays the “hole in the roof” card. Really? You worship a God that doesn’t have X-Ray vision? Does he need binoculars too? What happens if it’s cloudy, does He just watch the game on TV?
Besides, we all know that God’s favorite team couldn’t possibly be the Cowboys. It has to be The Angels Angels of Anaheim, right?
So, can you think of any sports myths that I missed?
Who are your favorite and least favorite teams?
Have any good stories about arguing with an umpire or a referee you can share?