Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Christian Athlete. Oxymoron?

Not too long ago David Brooks wrote an article  about sports and faith.  Basically he said you can't be a Christian and an athlete.

He's wrong. But he does highlight how it is difficult to live out a self sacrificial faith in an arena that is based on dominating another person/team.  

As a (former) athlete myself I know there were times where I failed to be loving and gracious and Christlike in the heat of the battle. But I also know that in competition, I wanted my opponent to give their best.  I know that when all parties are trying their hardest the sport is the most fun. The gifts God has granted us are most enjoyed when every possible skill and attribute is maximized. There are times where I have lost that I loved knowing I had given my best effort, and accepted the other team/person was simply better.

Losing, when you know you could have played better, sucks. But you should know that.

Not only that, but there have been times where my opponents haven't given their best, where they really haven't cared to win, the last game of any pickup basketball night comes to mind, and it makes the experience terribly unsatisfying (at best) or insulting (at worst). Sports are a microcosm of life.  Do your best with what you've got, but do it with love.

The recent act of sacrifice and mercy by Meghan Vogel presents this difficult balancing act in perfect alignment. Watch this video She had already won the 1600 earlier in the day.  She's gifted and competitive.
However, in the finals of the 3200 didn't have enough left in the tank to win,  but when another racer collapsed in front of her with about 20 meters left she helped her across the finish line, allowing the other girl, only a sophomore, to finish in front of her.  

Meghan Vogel was able to love her neighbor, even while using the athletic gifts she has been given to her very best. She was able to see the needs in others and place them above her own when needed, but also able to put forth the highest effort in pursuit of her own goals and a desire to be and do the very best that we can.  

All this to say, if you are interested in playing some bball I'll be glad to kick your butt and help you up afterwards.  

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