As the NBA Playoffs near, our Oklahoma City Thunder just clinched a spot in the playoffs just this week. I am planning even now to watch as much of the NBA Playoffs action as I can, and I am hopeful that Westbrook, PG-13, Melo and company can make a big playoff run.
While I am not the most knowledgeable basketball fan in the world, I am an enthusiastic fan of the NBA and specifically my team, the Thunder. I sometimes hear the question, “Should Christians be big sports fans?”
Some time back, I wrote about this topic in the Baptist Messenger, the parent publication of WordSlingersOK.com. In that piece, I said that I strongly believe that sports, even spectator sports, have a redeeming value, and God can be glorified in it. When a child learns to throw a ball with his father’s help for the first time, there is good in that. When a winning athlete thanks God for allowing him or her to compete, God can get the glory, too.
I also think we need to keep our appetites for sports and the affect sports has on us in balance by doing the following:
Keep the game, ditch the marketing
First, at our house, when viewing a game, we try to turn the screen off during commercials, including during NBA games. There are probably some cool commercials we miss in the process, but so often the marketing that goes on during sports viewing is ungodly, or at least not family-friendly.
Baptists are historically one of the best in the world at keeping Sunday set apart as the Lord’s Day. Yet some communities are quick to schedule sports tournaments/events on Sundays. This is not the unforgiveable sin, but it does say something about us that we could let sports compete with church activity. Moreover, if your weekends are spent primarily glued to the game(s), it might be high time to re-evaluate your habits.
Let sports talk lead to a “God talk”
If you listen to sports talk radio at all, you will know that you could go days on end listening without coming to a topic of eternal, or even permanent, significance. Hours are spent analyzing and re-analyzing every game, stats, replays and more. Yet many, if not most, pro-sports games will be long forgotten in the grand scheme of things. If you hear people in your office or neighborhood talking about the big game, you can use that opportunity as a springboard to share Christ.
Don’t just watch sports, play sports
You are familiar with the term “armchair quarterback.” You might have even met one at some point. This is the person who cannot run a mile if their life depended on it talk big about how the team should have played and what the quarterback should have done on Saturday or Sunday. Though Fantasy Football and its companions are good for fellowship and building sports knowledge, these can tend to turn us into mere consumers of sports, rather than participants. The Apostle Paul says bodily exercise is of some value (1 Tim. 4:8) and then he calls us on to even more, by pursuing godliness like we would a prize.
With these reminders in place, I believe Christians can be big sports fans, but that we need to keep it in perspective. That being said, as the NBA Playoffs are set to begin, I will leave you with one final thought: “Let’s go Thunder!”