Does God care who wins? Of course He doesn’t.
Unless He does.
After all, who knows what He cares about? Who knows if He is even a He or a She or a Who Am? Or if He even is.
Does God care that Kurt Warner, the quarterback of the Arizona Cardinals, is more likely to be spotted carrying his bible than his playbook? Does God care that Ben Roethlisberger, Warner’s counterpart in Super Bowl XLIII this Sunday, used to adorn his armbands with the letters “PFJ”, an acronym for “Playing For Jesus” (The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback stopped only after the NFL fined him for violating its uniform policy)?
Does God care?
Without God, 'We'd all be nowhere'
Beginning two millennia ago with St. Paul, the author of the quote atop this page, Christian evangelists have traveled the world spreading the gospel of Jesus and courting controversy. They still do so today. It’s just that many of the most famous ones also happen to play quarterback.
Last month, Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford became only the second sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy. Less than 10 seconds after taking the podium, Bradford, speaking before a national television audience, declared, “First, I need to thank God. He’s given me so many blessings. ... Without him I’d be nowhere. We’d all be nowhere.”
Colt McCoy, the quarterback who finished second in the Heisman voting, would lead Texas to a Fiesta Bowl win three weeks later. McCoy, who points skyward after every touchdown pass he throws, began his postgame comments by thanking “my lord and savior Jesus Christ.”
"I just said give credit to God and represent for him," Tebow said. "I really tried to (stress) that the whole time. I talked to them two or three times about it."
What if a player thanked another deity?
“Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking. It's nothing to brag about. And those who preach faith and enable and elevate it are intellectual slave holders, keeping mankind in a bondage to fantasy and nonsense.”
— Bill Maher, “Religulous”
Gregg Doyel of CBSSports.com recently wrote, “Tebow's religion is seen as good because it is the religion of the majority. But it's not the religion of everybody. It's exclusionary, and just because you share Tebow's faith, that doesn't mean you're right.”
And Doyel, by the way, is both a Christian and a Gator alum. His objectivity is not in question.
“Exclusionary?” says Herb Lusk. “That’s a pretty foolish statement. Does the guy that does the Funky Chicken after scoring, does he exclude me?”
Lusk’s reference may be somewhat dated, but he is uniquely situated to engage in this debate. The pastor of the Greater Exodus Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Lusk is also the team chaplain for the Philadelphia Eagles. Thirty-two years ago, as a running back for the Eagles, Lusk took a pitchout from Ron Jaworski at Giants Stadium and ran 70 yards, untouched, to the end zone. Arriving there, Lusk took a knee and forged his legacy: He was the first NFL player to kneel in prayer after scoring a touchdown.
“I thanked God,” said Lusk, who had actually begun the practice while at Long Beach State. “I said a prayer of thanks that I was able to use my talents to the best of my abilities. The referee looked at me, like, ‘Give me the ball.’”
That might give NBC’s sideline reporter a moment’s pause, no?
Would such a sentiment be blasphemous? To whom? To proponents of Christianity, perhaps, but certainly not to proponents of the First Amendment.
David, sport's first trash-talker
Separation of church and sport? Since when? The ancient Olympic Games in Greece were chiefly a religious festival held in honor of Zeus, the father of the gods and goddesses.
Before Jesus there was the Old Testament, and before sport there was war. Did not the Israelite youth David slay the Philistine giant Goliath invoking God’s name?
“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of Yahweh, the God of the armies of Israel that you have dared to insult. Today Yahweh will deliver you into my hand and I shall kill you.”
— I Samuel 17: 45-46
In fact, the tribes of Israel spent much of the Old Testament believing that success in battle hinged on them having the Ark of the Covenant, in which were contained the tablets on which were written the Ten Commandments. The Ark is history’s most renowned good luck charm — it was the basis of the plot of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
If God is for us ...
Separation of church and sport? The game of basketball was invented at a YMCA ... a Young Man’s Christian Association (where, incidentally, it’s fun to play at). Does religion belong anywhere near the field of play? When has it not been?
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