Does God Care Who Wins The Super bowl?
Mark Oppenheimer wrote a fascinating article in the latest issue of Sports Illustrated in which he explores Christianity in the NFL. As some of you may know Colin Kaepernick, starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, proudly expresses his religiosity on the field. Kaepernick, after a big play, kisses either his tattoo of the words “TO GOD THE GLORY” or the one that reads “FAITH.”
The New York Giants meet after practices on Wednesdays for Bible study. The Protestant players gather for worship on Saturday evenings; the Catholics have a team Mass on Sunday. The team has a Protestant chaplain, whose salary is paid by the evangelical organization Athletes in Action, and a Catholic chaplain, both of whom travel with the team. The Giants pray at the end of every practice session and before every quarter of every game.
This is very common for all 32 teams nowadays.
One could ask how a devout Christian plays such a violent game. Sharon Stoll, University of Idaho, explains that in male team-sport athletics, “the opponent is not seen as an honorable opponent but rather an obstacle, of little worth, to be overcome.” In 1994, Stoll interviewed West Point football players. She asked about the role of intimidation in sports. Stoll says: “One of the linebackers says, “Ma’am, my job is to kick them in the head, knee them in the groin, stand over them and tell them never to get up’.” She then asks them what if they played against Jesus. The linebacker said that although he is as Christian as the next person, he would play the same way against Jesus. He said: “I leave God on the bench.”
Christian coaches and athletes point to the parable of the talents in the Gospel of Matthew. A master entrusts three servants with some talents, or coins. The two servants who use the money to make more money are praised, while the servant who buries his money in the ground is condemned for wasting what was given to him. Some Christians conclude from the parable that God wants us to use our God-given abilities as best we can.
Most Christians don’t believe that God cares who wins the Super Bowl. Father Joseph Uhen thinks God just wants everyone to use their talents and play their best. Most Christian athletes don’t pray for victory. They instead pray for health, or just for a good, fair game.
Theologians point out that “showering men with tens of millions of dollars in a culture rife with temptation is a recipe for sin and corruption, deeply corrosive to their spiritual lives, not to mention the marriages they are trying to keep intact.”
I don’t think God cares who wins the game. I agree that he just wants us to use our gifts. Since the Chicago Bears, my hometown team, is once again not in the Super Bowl I don’t really care who wins either. I just want to see a great, close game. I think the 49ers are a better team and will win. The Baltimore Ravens almost seem destined to win; especially since they keep winning despite me picking them to lose the last two games. So you never really know.
Do you think God cares who wins?
Can there be an intermingling of such a violent sport and Christianity?
Who do you think will win?
Twitter: @adrakontaidis & @talkrealdebate