I have been a die-hard Los Angeles Dodgers fan as long as I can remember. When they won their first World Series championship in Los Angeles in 1959, I burst out the door of our house shouting to the world that the Dodgers had won! I have lived and died with the Dodgers until this very day. There was a brief period in the early 1960s when the Dodgers were always near or at the top of the heap in the National League. They won three World Series championships from 1959 through 1965, including a memorable four-game sweep of the hated New York Yankees in 1963.
After a dry-spell of twenty-nine years, the boys in blue made it to the World Series this year. My expectations were high. And then the roof fell in on them. Lacking the consistency and killer instinct that carried them to the World Series, the Dodgers fell in seven games to the Houston Astros, who proved themselves to be the better team. Hats off to them.
I’m reflecting on this history and on these recent events because I’m unhappy with the results of the series. That’s always the case with the losing side in any contest. However, as I have mourned this latest disappointment from my beloved home-town team, and as I have tolerated the joyous celebration of Astros fans, I suddenly realized how out of kilter all this madness is.
I was deliriously happy when my team won games, and totally bummed when they lost. My spirits would rise and fall with each pitch, each home run, each out. The day after each game my mood could be measured by the final score the night before. I found myself frustrated and annoyed with things which might otherwise not concern me, and deep in my heart I realized it was all because of the outcome of a game.
As I reflect on this realization, I suspect that I have let sports have an undue influence in my life. In all fairness, I don’t think I’m as immersed in sports as some are, but comparison is always a tricky thing. Someone else’s excesses do not excuse my own. I am embarrassed and ashamed to have let this happen.
Upon further reflection, I cannot help but consider my devotion to sports in light of my profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Is it possible that my love of sports has robbed my Lord of the devotion I should give to Him? Has my worship been hindered because my mind has been distracted by the anticipation of an upcoming sporting event, or by the progress of that event? Am I more passionate about my favorite team than I am about the Lord’s church and His gospel? Do I allow the results of a sporting event to rob me of the joy of being in Christ, even if only momentarily? All of these are worthy questions, and each person must answer for himself or herself.
I’m not saying that it is sinful to enjoy sporting events, to attend games, or to passionately follow one’s favorite team. I’m simply asking if we haven’t allowed our priorities to get out of order. Whether my team ever wins the World Series pales in comparison to the sacrifice of my Lord on the cross. I should mourn the necessity of that sacrifice far more than the loss of a championship. I should rejoice more at the gift of eternal life through His blood than a victory on a sporting field.
Until I restore my priorities to what the Lord wants them to be, I’ll continue to fall far short of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ (Phil. 3:14). The Lord calls us to put God first in all we do (Mt. 6:33). This includes our passion for sports.
P.S. These reflections would still be true, and even more so, if my team had won.
God bless you!