Category: Sports

The continued shame of college sports

Today marks the College Football Playoff National Championship, featuring the Alabama Crimson Tide versus the Clemson Tigers. As an avid sports fan, my thoughts about college sports are mixed. On the one hand, I recognize the good of physical activity, the engaging challenge of competition and the community and identity provided by college sports. On the other hand, many thinkers, including Taylor Branch, have…  [more]

A Christian call to force the NFL’s hand on concussions

Last week, a group of leading concussion specialists gathered in Pittsburgh to address the crisis facing professional football in America. The National Football League financially backed the event, and for good reason. The nation’s most profitable sport faces a major threat to its survival if the negative publicity surrounding concussions continues. A recent PBS Frontline episode reported a 96% rate of CTE…  [more]

Seeing God in Toronto Blue Jays baseball

I wonder if God had playoff baseball in mind when He created the heavens and the earth? After making human beings - with amazing capacities to run, throw, catch and swing at things - He gave us a mandate to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth with people, society, culture, sport, home runs, double plays and split-fingered fastballs. God made us with the ability to play and He called us to create a game like…  [more]

American Ninja Warrior and spiritual formation

I’ve developed a bit of an obsession in the last few years with American Ninja Warrior. It also happens to be one of my kids’ favorite family television traditions. The American version of what began as a Japanese program is now in its seventh season. The show takes contestants through a series of obstacle courses, presenting challenges requiring agility, quickness and upper body strength. Each stage gets…  [more]

The prophetic subversion of “I’m just here so I don’t get fined”

In his (required) pre-Super Bowl press conference last week, Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch simultaneously delighted fans and frustrated reporters by responding to every question with the same statement: “I’m just here so I don’t get fined.” In their Super Bowl special Friday night, Key and Peele exaggerated his avant-garde press conference, replying instead, “Biscuits and…  [more]

Janay Rice on mistakes and/or sin

If it is a mistake to forget your wife’s birthday, what might we call it if you punch her and drag her from an elevator unconscious? Is this, too, a mistake? This is the question raised by an interview given by Janay Rice following news that the NFL has reinstated her husband, Ray Rice, to play football once again. And it is a question that should be raised by each of us as we watch to see how team owners and…  [more]

What price glory? Parsing the mixed messages of sports celebrations

This week the NFL spawned a heated debate about who can be worshipped in the end zone. During Monday’s routing of the New England Patriots, Husain Abdullah, a safety for the Kansas City Chiefs, intercepted a Tom Brady pass and returned it for a touchdown. His performance was the talk of social media. No, not his athletic performance, but rather the fact that he fell to his knees after scoring and bowed his…  [more]

Adrian Peterson’s prayer group

What was that little red “O” doing behind Adrian Peterson’s name on the Web page for my fantasy football team? “Out.” What was this? There had been no hint of an injury leading up to the weekend’s slate of NFL games. What was going on with “my” best player? As further reports would reveal, Peterson – star running back for the Minnesota Vikings – had been…  [more]

LeBron James’ letter: great PR or a new take on greatness?

When news of “The Letter” broke, I was listening to Colin Cowherd’s show on ESPN radio. LeBron James’ declaration that he would return home to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers was not only brilliantly handled, I thought, but also authentic. With a little distance from the celebrated letter, though, I can’t help but wonder how well James himself matches up with the narrative that his…  [more]

Prison runs and Paul’s urge to race

The people at Oregon State Penitentiary have an interesting way to rehabilitate offenders. Once monthly from spring through fall, the maximum-security institution hosts runners from the local community who compete alongside 150 eligible inmates in races behind the prison walls. Since its inception during the 1970s through the efforts of Olympic runner Steve Prefontaine, the annual program has given inmates a healthy…  [more]

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