Saturday, December 4, 2010

Some Thoughts on Being a Sports Fan Who Follows Jesus

Today's the first home game for the CU men's hoops team...we have a fabulous team this year and my family and I love being fans at their games in the long Midwest's my latest editorial writing for the CU school paper on what is means to be a fan at to cheer on the Golden Eagles...

If you were to ask me what some of my favorite memories of my first 16 months on the CU campus are, I’d be able to share all kinds of stories about Terra Firma events, global justice awareness activities, meals in the dining hall, meaningful classroom interactions, and hundreds of meetings and conversations with staff and students in the CU community.

However, I’d also have to tell you that my CU highlight moments include plenty of time spent in the bleachers or on the sidelines of our CU athletic fields. I am a sports junkie/nerd who is perfectly content attending and watching any kind of athletic contest, except for horse racing or NASCAR races; I think it has something to do with the lack of human movement and the lack of presence of a ball or other object being moved around! The sad truth is that I’m well on my way to raising another generation of this type of passionate sports fan, and one of my most distinct CU memories is my seven year old son waving his gold CU spirit towel right in Dr. Ostrander’s face at the WHAC Basketball Championship Game last March!

I love athletics, love hanging out with athletes, and love being a CU fan. But I also sometimes wonder how my faith and my being a fan are connected in my life. I’ve actually pondered questions like “Does God care about how we cheer at games? Can Christians really care passionately about the outcome of sporting events? How does the fact that I am part of the CU community influence what I choose to do at the athletic contests I attend?” I am fully aware that thinking about these questions may not be normal, but as I’ve reflected on them I think they really are worth consideration in an American culture that reveres and is in many ways fixated with its athletic events.

So here are a few thoughts in response to those questions as we consider what it means to be a CU fan…

1. It is a good thing to attend and be engaged at our sporting events! There is a powerful sense of community that is developed at these events and your presence and participation makes a huge impact on the lives of hundreds of students on our campus who are passionately pursuing the calling God has invited them to pursue with the gifts and passions He’s placed in their lives. It is so appropriate to be there in big numbers and to be there with loud voices!

2. I believe that the best kind of cheering focuses on celebrating what our teams and athletes do well. Your energy and feedback can and does stir them to continue to pursue excellence and often helps them sustain their effort when they are fatigued or struggling at a moment in the match or event. I know that there is an incredible temptation to focus our energy and words on the negative things that the other team’s players are doing. I’ve seen and laughed at the crazy ways crowds on TV and in other settings have tried to distract, intimidate and even humiliate athletes on opposing teams. But I’m always drawn to the fact that there is a person behind the player, and I’m convinced that the words of Scripture paint a picture where God loves when our words inspire and encourage rather than potentially harm or damage, even in the heat of competition.

I love the words of Solomon in Proverbs 16:24 (NIV): “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

3. There is a unique reality as a Christian community that how we compete and cheer and what we do as fans does represent who Jesus is to the folks from outside our community who are playing and watching along with us in athletic settings. I’ve received more than enough letters and emails from people after games as an administrator and coach that have made me quite certain that they definitely are watching us as Christians in that context. It might seem a bit unfair or judgmental to us, but it also is a reality that offers us an incredible opportunity to demonstrate what the character and nature of Christ looks like. We simply are different as a community of fans because we proclaim Jesus as Lord of our lives. Our culture and other spectators can form impressions of both Christ and His church from coming to a game against Cornerstone University. That is an incredible opportunity for us to bless people and honor Christ in this competitive cauldron. It’s one I am excited about and hope you will embrace as you live out your college life and your faith as a CU fan.

I resonate with the vision Paul offers for us in Philippians 2:13-14 (Message): “Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God.”

I just finished watching a fall season of great crowds at soccer and volleyball and cross country events; and the winter months promise some incredible basketball action from some very good CU squads; and there’s new softball fan seating awaiting us in the spring…

I’ll look forward to seeing you cheering long and loud at these unique CU events, and I’m praying the world will see Jesus in us and through us as we live out the calling of being Christian fans…


No comments: