Sports bring out the best in people when athletes train in order to push their bodies beyond what they ever thought possible. They also bring out people who inspire other people when they overcome a disability and succeed at a sport. Sports create a lot of fun rivalries and banter between people. One thing it should never bring out is death, especially when it is out of anger.
A few years ago I went to Gillette Stadium for a Sunday night football game. It was the Green Bay Packers in a competition against the New England Patriots. I showed up in my Aaron Rodgers jersey even though he was sidelined that night with a concussion Beforehand I was talking to several people who warned me about being picked on or injured for wearing an away jersey. I figured I would take my chances.
Sure enough, it was not a problem at all. In fact, the fans were all very supportive and friendly to us during the game. Afterwards we ran into a few people who had a few too many drinks, but they are easily ignored. Other than that, it was completely about the entertainment of the game.
The unfortunate truth is that more people are getting overly intense about sports. In college I had a guy tell me he was going to punch me after the Packers beat the Vikings. I laughed and walked away because it was absurd to even talk to him about that. That does not make sense to me.
Things are getting crazy in some school sports as well. Sports in high school have taken a place of status and lordship in many lives. This happens as students are being asked to work harder, give up more time, and spend more money to refine a talent. They are put under pressure to perform a certain way because people count on them and, more importantly school scholarships might be on the line.
Of course this pressure is enough in itself. To make matters worse, parents are getting in fights at games with refs because they don’t like the calls made. In fact, I have seen coaches attempt to get into physical conflict with a ref before, even chasing them to the locker room. It is maddening.
We have been hearing about a teen who has been charged with homicide after punching a ref and killing him. (story) Ironically the ref had given him a penalty for pushing someone. So, to make his case he punches the ref? That makes a lot of sense. What is especially heart breaking to me is that one act of foolishness has completely altered two lives directly, as well as countless others. I know this teen did not intend to kill this man, but he also didn’t intend to think before he acted. Self-control is not something we are born with; it is something that is developed, nurtured, and caught from other people and the Spirit of God. Let’s teach our kids what matters and what doesn’t. Sure sports are fun and we want the calls to be correct. To be sure, there are times to dispute a call. (“Fail Mary” anyone) It is just a game. It needs to be kept in the proper place.