What Sports Can Do: A response to the argument that sports are meaningless

By: Will Cunningham

When I picked up the latest edition of the Waltonian, I read an article written by my good friend Rachel Baker. In this article, she explains her reasoning for why she doesn’t like sports. Now, I thank Rachel for writing this article. She brings a new perspective to sports as well as valid points on how flawed the industry is. I appreciate her examining and criticizing some elements of sports culture that have harmed the reputation of games such as alcohol consumption and fights. The amount of pain and sorrow these aspects of sports culture have placed on people is stagnant, and I truly believe the sports world must take further initiative to solve these problems.

However, I digress. These atrocities are rather the result of the monetization of sports; not sports themselves.  Like any industry, the sole goal of sports teams and businesses is to make money, and sports organizations will do anything to get more of it, such as forcing players to play through pain, or allowing fans to purchase excess alcohol at games. This is yet another living proof of 1 James 6:10: “For the love of money is the root of all evil.”

I would like to encourage you to take a step back from this monetization and view sports as what they were meant to be: games. These games, while complicated and energy draining, proved to be fun and beneficial for many who played them. 

Now you can call me biased for saying these things, because I am. Not only did I play sports as a kid, I also announce them today. They’ve been a tremendous part of my entire life. They gave my childhood meaning and wonderful memories. They’ve allowed me to form friendships I wouldn’t have otherwise formed, including those with my now roommate and suitemates. Most importantly, they have installed in me three core skills that are incredibly useful in the world: problem-solving, loyalty, and love.

Problem-solving is an important skill to have, and sports can help build this skill by opening your mind to a whole universe of scenarios in a game. For each scenario, there is a different way to solve a problem that lies ahead for your team. To find the solution, you must think creatively and work together with your team, thus engaging in problem-solving.

Sports also teach us loyalty. When you join a team, you don’t just become a part of it. It also becomes a part of you. Betraying something you are part of for not doing so well at the moment is a sign of weak character. Imagine your romantic partner cheating on you because the relationship has just had some rough moments. While the emphasis is different, loyalty is significantly important in both.

Finally, there is love. Yes, even with all the fights that happen, love remains a prominent force in sports. Take this example from Oct. 17, 2017. NBA player Gordon Hayward suffered a horrific leg injury in a game by landing awkwardly. He was carted off the court, and he had to get surgery that would keep him out for an entire year. Immediately, players from both teams gathered to pray for Hayward, and several others offered prayers via Twitter. The NBA community’s support of Hayward reveals the loving culture within sports.

No, sports aren’t perfect, nor are they everyone’s cup of tea, but that doesn’t mean they are, in Rachel’s words, “insignificant.” On the contrary, they can be moral motivators and community builders, as well as great tools for spreading Christ’s love to those around us.

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