JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

God and sports

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I was thinking today how, when many athletes do something on the field or court, they point toward the heavens, thanking God or giving credit to a dead relative or just lovin’ good ol’ Jesus Christ.

And yet, though it is meant to be a symbol of humility, it’s actually quite arrogant—because it attempts to place a significance upon athletic achievements don’t doesn’t exist.

Imagine, for example, if every time I wrote a lead I pointed to the sky. Or if, whenever the woman at Cosi makes a particularly tasty Hummus-and-tomato sandwich, she crosses herself. What if the mailman drops to his knees every single time he delivers a letter? Or an accountant dances on sanctimonious joy when the numbers add up?

I’m not saying anything is wrong with believing. What I’m saying is that the act of religious thankfulness during a sporting event is, without question, a show—not reality. It’s says, in a literal translation, Thank God, but in truth it’s saying, “Thank God … I’m so amazing.”

And I’d also like to thank my agent …