It’s Just a Game

It is just past 8 PM PST on Sunday as I write this. For those who follow American football, this is Superbowl Sunday, perhaps one of the biggest day in sports history. I don’t care much for American football. Baseball, hockey, yes, but not American sport. That might sound almost unpatriotic for some Americans, but there are just as many who really don’t care either. They might still gather for the company and the food.

For those who do care about the game, they act like the whole universe is riding on the gameplay. They wear their team jerseys. They scream at the ref for calls against their team. They shout at the refs on TV, even if the umpires can’t hear them. They join with several hundred strangers in sport bars to cheer and drink to the team’s win or drown their sorrows if they lose.

You know what, it’s just a game.

You know what’s going to happen? One, you still have to clean up your house after all your guests have left. Two, you’re going to work tomorrow where your projects are still waiting for you. Three, depending on how much you had to drink, you might have a hangover. I also hope you did not drink and drive. Four, by God’s grace, the sun will rise and set. Five, life goes on. You change your kids’ diapers or take the older ones to school.

You know why the score today is insignificant? It’s just a game.

I have no problem with sports. There is plenty of value in exercise and playing sports. Being on a team teaches athletes young and old how to work together. The problems I do have come from the perverse sports culture.

I don’t have a problem if people spend $5, $10, or even $20 dollars in an office pool. I do have problem if people send their life savings of $5000, $100,000, or even money they don’t have. All for what? A chance to double their money? Or lose it all? Why do this? In the end, football is just a game.

And what of the elevation of athletes into celebrities? This is nothing new. Gladiators of ancient Rome had their fanbase. It is written of one gladiator who “net men by day and women by night.” Translation: he fought men with spear and net (a retiarius) and slept with his fans. Does that sound familiar?

I am reminded of the scene in the movie Facing the Giants where Coach Grant Taylor (played by Alex Kendrick) offers money if his team could name the champions ten years ago. No one knew the answer. Taylor tries to make it easier: what about five years ago? Again, no one knew the correct answer. Finally, Taylor asked who won last year. Once again, no one knew the answer. This only drives home the point that all fame is fleeting.

Facing the Giants is a Christian movie with a Christian message that if you live for anything short of the glory of God, those endeavors are too small. If you live for sports, fame, money, those plans will never fulfill you.

  1. If you live for sports, what will happen when you have a career-ending injury?
  2. If you live for fame, what will happen when no one pays attention to you?
  3. If you live for money, what will happen when someone is richer than you? Or if you lose your income stream?

So, if your team team lost the Superbowl, it’s just a game.

Rather, I would rather encourage you to focus on what really, really matters: your marriage, your family, and your character.