Be a Sport

The 2000 Olympic Games are just the latest spectacle in a never-ending parade of sporting events. Yet, as national pride and individual achievement are displayed on a global stage, we shudder at the uncontrolled passions and misplaced ferocity of a handful of today's sports fans and athletes. According to ABCNEWS.com, "In April, a 17-year-old in Athens, Texas, allegedly kicked a coach and injured an opposing player with a kick to the head during a soccer game fight." The article continues, "Last year in Washington state, [a wrestler] head-butted an official during a match, knocking him unconscious and leaving him with serious neck and back pain.... Some wonder if there is much surprise in the behavior, considering some rough behavior by their sports idols, parents and coaches." (See Out of Control, below, on the killing of fellow teammate's father by a hockey dad.) In such an atmosphere, all seem to agree: we need perspective, we need heroes.

These days, true sports heroes are often--though certainly not always--professing Christians. For example, the picture of perseverance: pro basketball's A.C. Green. He not only won the NBA Ironman Award for 1,074* consecutive games played, but is famous for his unashamed sexual abstinence as a single. Or how about the up-from-stocking-grocery-shelves Cinderella story of 2000 Super Bowl-winning quarterback Curt Warner of the St. Louis Rams. Even Sports Illustrated admitted, "...by overcoming doubt and adversity at every turn, [Warner] has earned the right to have his faith taken at face value." Soccer sensation Michelle Akers makes no bones about her Christian faith (see articles below). And the story of Eric Lidell's Christian convictions and athleticism, immortalized in the popular film Chariots of Fire, still inspires after almost 80 years. * Green was eventually waived this year with 1,133 straight games.

Our special focus answers to the question, "What is a Christian view of sporting and sportsmanship--from the bleachers and the field of play?"

—Byron Barlowe, Editor/Webmaster, Leadership University

Feature Articles:

The Games We Play
Jerry Solomon
Game-playing and competition can and should be seen as a healthy part of a life that seeks to glorify God in all things. This essay covers the following topics: Games and a Christian World View; A Brief History of Games; Games and the New Testament; Contemporary Views of Games; and Christians in a Competitive World.

Out of Control: Obnoxious Little League Parents
Chuck Colson
A few weeks ago, Michael Costin was supervising practice for his 10-year-old son's hockey team just north of Boston. During the practice, another parent, Thomas Junta, became upset at how his son was being treated. What happened next is a sign of where our culture's attitudes about parenting can lead.

Where Have All Our Heroes Gone?
Ray Cotton
We all have a need for heroes. But where do we find them in the world today? First of all, we must determine what key element determines heroism. The author chooses personal character, rather than superior performance, as the main ingredient.

The Weird World of Sports
James Nuechterlein
Nuechterlein: "A life lived in a sports bar is a life ill spent. But for the great majority of us, sports provides a pleasurable interlude in life for which we not only need not repent, but for which we should offer continuing prayers of gratitude."

Michelle Akers's Story
Michelle Akers
She helped lead the U.S. team to victory in the 1991 World Championship by scoring ten goals in only six games. She helped lead her team to Olympic Gold in 1996 and is doing her best to join them for a repeat in Sydney, despite chronic health problems. But while many call her the greatest women's soccer player ever, you won't have to read much of Michelle's compelling story to realize that for her, there is more to life than soccer.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Michelle Akers
On her Web site, the moral and athletic leader of the 1996 Gold Medal-winning U.S. Women's Olympic Soccer Team answers questions about soccer, training, fitness, and life in general. Here are the most common questions and Michelle's responses.

Related Articles:

Knighthood and Biblical Manhood
Lou Whitworth
Actually, we are more indebted to the knightly virtue of chivalry than we realize. Many of the concepts and words have become part of our familiar vocabulary. It is from chivalry, for example, that we acquired the concept of the gentleman (notice the dual stress here--gentle-man) and our concepts of sportsmanship and fair play. It is perhaps no accident that the decline in chivalry parallels the rise of taunting and the "win at any price" attitude among our sports figures.

Integrity: What's the Price?
Patrick Morley
True moral character is revealed when one is alone. Integrity, which manifests itself through honesty, is the key to good character.

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