Last night I spent much of the evening at church (McBIC, or Mechanicsburg Brethren in Christ) watching the World Series game with many other Phillies fans, and a couple of Yankee fans. It was an enjoyable time, and those who stayed for most of the night had as much fun with the fellowship as the game, which “our” Phillies won.
The question that rolled through my mind, though, was why we cared. Many of us have been Phillies fans all our lives. I would think it is safe to say that most of the folks there are not just baseball fans. Personally, I like almost any sport. I’ll watch all sorts of things, even if I have no teams I really care about, or it is an obscure sport that I couldn’t explain the rules. Why do I care? Why would I rather watch obscure sports than most anything non-sports?
I think part of the answer is that I enjoy seeing people who are good at what they do. There is a simple joy in watching a player who is simply performing in ways that amazing. Having followed Philadelphia sports teams for years, and having been born in Philadelphia, gives me a vested interest emotionally in their games. While this has often been depressing over the years, overall the experience has been a good experience. It gives a common topic with people you bump in to in your everyday life. However, I find it hard to justify the expense of attending games. Watching on TV for relatively little (I have cable, so it isn’t really “free TV”) is a simple thing that I enjoy.
Where I think this becomes a problem, is when we allow the simple pleasure of watching players play a game to seep into our lives, and affect our lives. I rarely grade while watching a game in which I have a vested interest. I don’t want my frustration or joy to affect a student’s grade. Once the game is over, however, I try to put those emotions aside and move back to the things that really matter to me. I look at it like watching a movie or TV program. There is no problem with sensing the emotion of the film (in most cases, but that is a topic for another blog). But if you leave the theater and take the sadness of characters in the film with you, or are only happy after watching comedies, then I think there is a problem.
Sports are a form of entertainment, and should not be elevated beyond this to some important pedestal in our life. We can appreciate the teamwork, and take an appreciation of this into our lives. We can learn from the metaphors, but the outcome should not affect the overall attitude of our lives. Our lives should be ruled by the truth of our standing in our Messiah, and the joy that springs from within, the Living Water that quenches our thirst for meaning and belonging. If we look for those in sport, or anywhere else, we will always be disappointed. We talked about that this past Sunday with the senior high youth Sunday school class at church, and it couldn’t be more relevant every day of my life. Praise God!
Oh, and Go Phillies!