Monday, February 4, 2013

Sports, Good and Godly Exercise

     What benefits (if any) do sports hold? Are they merely physical, or do they branch out into other areas of life as well? Why shouldn’t I play sports? These are all valid questions. Some of which have been glossed over in the pursuit of worldly pleasure, success and popularity, and others in the pursuit of godliness and ‘in not of’-liness.
    I’m going to start with the second group of people, who would say that sports are inherently bad. There are little to no real benefits to be gained from them, and they are detrimental to our growth as godly young men and women in Christ. I would disagree. The benefits of playing and participating in various sports are numerous and varied. Not only do sports (by sports I mean team sports; baseball, football, basketball, Ultimate etc.) grow you physically, through the sometimes strenuous exercises, but they can also grow character, foster relationships and grow vital people skills.
     Any kind of game will grow your character, board games, card games, and sports. They teach us graciousness and humility in victory, while showing us how to keep our priorities in order when we lose. They teach us patience as we wait for our opponents. They teach us how to keep our cool when others don’t. They also give us insight into our own lives and hearts. “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” I have found this to be especially true with Sports. Sports bring out the best and worst in all of us. One of the best ways to judge a person’s character is to play a game with them. Their reactions and actions will act as a lens into their heart; the game will show their values and their character. With each game played, a new lesson is learned; a new character trait is grown and new insights are given.
     Relationships are also an inevitable part of sports. There are always at least two people involved in a game, and there are usually more. Every time you speak or interact with a person, you modify your relationship, for better or for worse. As I noted earlier, our attitudes manifest themselves most blatantly when playing a game. If your attitude and character are improper, then relationships will be harmed, not grown. Your teammates and opponents are all affected by how you play the game, and you can make lifelong friends or enemies (regardless of whose team they’re on) depending on how you interact with the others on the field.
     Communication is key in every area of life, especially sports. Without good communication a team will break down and lose, like in a place of business or a family. Teamwork, like communication, will carry you to victory, in sports and in life. As an aside, I have seen teams with half the skill in a certain sport defeat their opponents, simply by virtue (and necessity) of superiority teamwork.
     But nothing is all cake and no vinegar, there are a second group of people. These use sports to build up their self image and pride. What are some of the downsides of sports? Sports make visible the heart of a person, even those with bad attitudes. Playing sports provides an atmosphere that can allow these sinful heart attitudes to fester, resulting in a negative experience for those playing with the person, and making the already sinful character traits worse. Pride is frequently glorified in a sporting atmosphere, and competition can quickly grow into conflict.
     Sports can provide an excellent opportunity to grow and learn, to develop relationships and learn communication and teamwork skills. Keep in mind, as you’re on the field, that we have a propensity to show our hearts on the field. We should always strive to glorify Christ by our actions, on an off the field.

A shameless dig for Ultimate

I referenced a sport earlier called Ultimate. Generally called Ultimate Frisbee (but not officially, as ‘Frisbee’ is copyrighted by WHAMO®), Ultimate characterizes what an ideal sport can look like. Besides the basic game play (the rules of which can be found at ) which is awesome in and of itself, combining the athleticism of soccer, the footwork and headwork of basketball, with the field of football, Ultimate has, in its rules, a clause known as the Spirit of the Game™. The Spirit of the game is the core of Ultimate, which is the only major self-officiated and non-contact sport, and it puts virtue and sportsmanship over victory. I would encourage you to check out the rules and basic mechanics and try it out at your next church/homeschool/family/whatever gathering.

Leaping Lizard

Image by Leaping Lizard


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