God and sports


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 …

10 thoughts on “God and sports”

  1. I can’t agree with you. We don’t know what true significance there is to any event. Every event affects every event that follows it. What I do believe is that athletes should acknowledge God after every game, win or lose. Thank God for the opportunity to play. Ask God to accept their hard work as a prayer.

  2. I’m not sure a show is the word you mean. It seems that players use faith as a crutch, because while you can control every single lede, they can’t really control what happens; they can just try their best and hope things work out. One day they might be great, the next day they might have a serious injury. That’s really not comparable to you writing – it’s more comparable to your car accident you blogged about.

    By contrast, I don’t think players stop and thank god in the middle of doing reps in the weight room.

    That said, there is absolutely nothing religious that happens on the field. Players that make a big show are essentially showing the same depth of knowledge as 10th century soldiers. What happens on a field has absolutely nothing to do with any god that may exist.

  3. I’m thinking way more props need to go out to the great Siva lingum. These big balled men in their gladitorial endevors ought to be stay conscious that the god of creation and destruction likes sporting events and watches with a lusty eye, keeping the players always one fingernail flick away from oblivion.

  4. Actually, why didn’t the Angels blame God for those two eighth-inning errors? I mean, if He is The reason for success, then He also is The reason for failure, no?

  5. I confess that each time I witness such a display I snort with disgust. As if an all powerful entity caused (allowed?) a player to hit a home run, win a football game with a hail-Mary, or to run a Nascar race safely (“And protect our troops who are securing our freedom!), and in the next instant caused (allowed?) a tsunami or earthquake or jet plane flown by fanatics to kill thousands. How absurd.

  6. What bothers me about athlete actions described by Jeff is this: A guy scores a touchdown and points to heaven….he’s basically thanking God for a touchdown, and, for choosing his team to lead/win! Another favorite example: team holding hands, praying for the the opposing team field goal kicker to miss!

    Pray for strength, to give your best effort, that no one gets hurt, that fans enjoy the show…..but don’t thank God for taking ‘their’ side on a score or win. That is insulting to others on the ‘other’ side.

  7. I always sort of wonder if they are acknowledging, as Jeff says, “a dead relative.” Like, “That’s one for you, Pop!” And I’m mentally rolling my eyes all the while…

  8. I’ve always felt it’s a ridiculous, self-serving display; that God truly cares about your touchdown and gets an ego stroke by you acknowledging him in relation to that. But if say, a defensive player fails to catch the other guy who scores the winning touchdown, yet knows he’s actually run faster than he every has in his entire life, that won’t matter; he still won’t genuflect in that case. Everyone knows God only likes winners.

    And as mentioned before, it’s really just a pissing contest that suggests MY faith in God is greater than yours; that’s why He favored Me. That’s hardly my idea of good sportsmanship!

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