We heard recently that Giancarlo Stanton has entered into a contract with the Miami Marlins for $325 million dollars. For 13 years this baseball outfielder will receive $69,000 dollars per day. This speaks more than this super extravagant sports contract. It speaks of America’s obsession with sports – all kinds of sports. This obsession to some has become a cultural obscenity. It has become a significant factor in the demise of our nation culturally.
What do Americans spend on sports every year? In 2008, the International Association of Sports Economists published an article entitled “The Size and Scope of the Sports Industry in the United States.” They declared “estimates of the size of the sports industry ranged from $44 to $73 billion in the year 2005.” Today’s statistics are much higher. Checking “US Sports Spending” on Google is almost mind-boggling.
The average weekly salary for a professional athlete is over $125,000. That’s over twice what the average worker makes in a year. The cost for travel to sporting events tops $7 billion per year. Think of the billions of dollars spent by cities to build their sports stadiums. Time magazine called college sports spending “insane,” noting that in 2011, Ohio State University spent $380,000 per year per football player, while spending only $20,000 per year on academic students. Many high school basketball players set their dreams on becoming a professional athlete, while only one out of ten thousand actually secure a position in the NBA.
Edward Gibbons, in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, stated that one of the five reasons why Rome withered and died was its mad craze for pleasure sports. Now, I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy watching a baseball or football game. I even enjoy watching a little golf. However, no one with any spiritual vision will fail to acknowledge that our culture is becoming more anti-God and anti-Christ. We have become a materialistic, hedonistic nation, mesmerized by many forms of entertainment. And sports –from amateur to professional – tops the list of contributing factors.
There’s nothing wrong inherently with sports; but individuals who profess to be disciples of Jesus Christ must look at sports from a different view. Does the Bible speak about athletics? Yes, as a matter of fact it does. The Apostle Paul declared to his son, Timothy,
“Have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily exercise is only for a little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (I Timothy 4:7-8).
Now, I’m not saying that Christians should not engage in sporting activities. Nor am I saying that some Christian athletic associations have not been successful in reaching for Christ those who love sporting activities. What deeply concerns me is the way in which Christian men have been sucked into our nation’s craze for pleasure sports (and that doesn’t even include our craze for hunting, fishing, boating, and camping).
If you would like to know how Christian men are affected by this phenomenon, ask one of your church leaders (or ministers for that matter) to talk to you about sports.
- Ask them to tell you about the standing of their favorite baseball, football, or basketball team.
- Ask them about their favorite player’s sport’s statistics.
- Then ask them to recite for you the Ten Commandments.
- Ask them to name for you the Twelve Apostles, what they did and how they died.
- Ask them to define for you the doctrine of justification or the substitutionary atonement of Christ.
- Ask them if they faithfully tithe, or if they steal God’s tithe for their own consumption.
- Ask them if they have ever seriously witnessed to a lost friend about his need for Christ.
If you attend the average evangelical church, the answers will grieve you. You will begin to realize just how backslidden our churches have become and how spiritually vacuous and cowardly are most who fill our pulpits. Then you will understand why I believe that the greatest need in our nation is for the Holy Spirit of God to send conviction, repentance and revival to those who lead in our churches. The silence of our leaders in this matter is deafening! Each of us must realize that one day we will stand before Christ to account for our service to him. God commanded us,
“Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (I John 2:15).
We must each give an account of our earthly priorities. And we would do well to face this fact: sports provide no spiritual benefit to our nation. Godliness promises both blessing in this life and the life to come for those who trust Christ. Pleasure sports will not be allowed in Hell. We believers who desire to grow in grace would do well to heed the words of Colossians 3:1-4:
“If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set you mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”