A number of years ago I was a speaker at a camp for young people. When the initial group game time came, one of many leaders began by telling a parable based on Genesis 1-3. He described the joys of doing offers in the Garden of Eden where in actuality the emphasis was simply on the joy of play. But one day the serpent entered the garden and tempted the Eden-dwellers with the notion of points. They gave in to the temptation and began keeping score in their games and this generated a myriad of evils - competition, lust for winning, cheating, anger and fights. They lost the simple joy of play.
The leader told this parable to allow teenagers know that week at the camp they'd be introduced to non-competitive games. There were no points, no winners or losers, just the joy of play. But there clearly was one serious problem - the games were totally and completely boring. Day after day less and less of the teenagers arrived for the game time to ensure that at the last one there have been only a number of teenagers there.
Is this a precise portrayal of a theology of sports? Obviously, I don't think so. I'd like presenting a brief and broad theology of sports. If you never that way title you can consider it as, "Why we should watch the Super Bowl!"
History could be summed up in three words: creation, fall, redemption. So when you are looking at the theology of a concern you need to ask: What is its relation to or reflection of creation, of the fall, of redemption? In considering the issue of sports, I have added two further words to expand our consideration - incarnation and salvation (both which are, of course, tied to creation, fall and redemption).
Creation - God might have created everything to be gray and serviceable. Rather, He created a great diversity of color, size, shape, smell, texture, sounds, and tastes. Why did He do this? He achieved it so your creation will be a reflection of His person and, particularly, His beauty. It is a masterpiece of function and form. The creation is a work of art.
Art might be thought of as consisting of two types: visual art - like painting, sculpture, architecture, and, performing art - like drama, music, dancing. The Lord included both visual and performing art in the creation. Visual Art: flowers, mountains, trees; Performing Art: oceans and rivers, planetary orbits, clouds. Some things in creation combine the two.
Sports really are a reflection with this creative activity of the Lord. In addition they combine visual art (painted fields/courts, team colors and logos) and performing arts (the actual play). Sports reflect the event and form of creation. There's beauty in a play that is run to perfection, in a well-thrown ball, in a diving catch, in turning a double play. Those activities may bring excitement and happiness since they are a reflection of how a world was designed to be. They are a present of art (or artistry, in the event that you prefer).
The Lord also created things in a certain order, not in a haphazard way, and He placed within the creation laws or rules by which nature operates. Sports likewise have an order in their mind and have rules by that they operate. In the same way you can find consequences for rebelling against the created order (such as disregarding gravity), so might there be consequences for not following the guidelines in sports. Sports reflect the type and principles of the creation. As in nature, this reflection, when done well, honors the Lord and provides fan joy.
Fall - In the fall, man rebelled by sin and the curse which resulted from that fall touches all of each thing - there is nothing that escapes. This means that we'd expect you'll see proof of the fall in sports and, of course, we do. You will find sins of attitude in addition to sins of action.
The deadliest of the sins could be the idolatry of sports - when it holds the best devote the affection of one's heart and in the considering the mind. When life is planned around when games are played or when a person's entire outlook is impacted by whether his team wins or loses, he has crossed the line into an unhealthy and sinful obsession.
Published by Whitney Morgan