Sports are a challenging issue when it comes to the realm of faith.
“God doesn’t care about sports,” people claim. “He’s not interested in that insignificant of an issue.”
When has God not cared about something? If sports are part of God’s creation, His gift to mankind, why would He shrug it off and passively watch the thousands of athletes who participate in them every day?
God loves people, and He deserves glory. Sports are an excellent avenue to display his glory.
There are many athletes who claim to love God. They love to thank their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and point to the sky after every touchdown.
However, Christians need to be careful about who they look up to in the realm of sports and how they address their role models’ actions.
There are several notable athletes who try to represent God in their athletic careers such as MLB outfielder Josh Hamilton and NBA forward Kevin Durant. Both are often portrayed as glorious figures who have professed the name of God in their areas of influence. Yes, we should support this. God must be glorified.
However, these athletes have not always represented God the way He wants to be. Hamilton, a former cocaine addict, has had multiple relapses during his career, with pictures surfacing the internet showing him at various bars with women who are not his wife. Durant, who is often sold as the nicest guy in the NBA, said he tries to be “a total asshole” while on the court.
As followers of Jesus, we must be careful who we look to for models of our faith. It is easy to rally around a star athlete proclaiming the name of Jesus, but it can be difficult to hold them to what that means.
I’m pretty sure God never wants us to be assholes, regardless of the situation (excuse my French). He wants to set us free from our struggles and the things that tie us down.
Athletes often misrepresent faith in Christ in the ways they live. We must be willing to support them, but not excuse them. Sometimes the line between grace and rejection can be a difficult line to walk. We must support these athletes, but not look at them as our hope. No human can represent Christ perfectly—I have been a jerk on the basketball court a few times, too. However, we must hold these athletes to the same standards to which we would hold our friends and family.
Athletes have a lot of influence in society, and they should not use that to misrepresent our Lord. We must pray for these athletes continually so that they may bring Him glory, but we must look to God as our true model.
Matthew Ogan is a sophomore majoring in family and human services. He can be reached at OganM@jbu.edu.