The Matter of Sport

Plato is supposed to have said ‘You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation’. Whether he did or not may be open to debate. But the concept isn’t. At least not in my experience. I’ve had some of my best moments in life on the sports field; achievements of which I’m proud, incidences of sportsmanship and shared experiences of our team triumphing against the odds. I won’t bore you with the details! But it’s fair to say that I’ve also had some of my worst moments in life on the sports field. My wife, will attest to that. I dare not ask, but I’m pretty confident she’ll remember an incident of racket chucking which took place over a decade ago. We’d only just started ‘going out’. So appalled was she by what she witnessed on the tennis courts of Southampton University that it’s a miracle of grace that our relationship ever got further. For the record, I can’t remember the last time I threw my racket. But the temptation simmers just under the surface, ready to engulf me every time I hit my forehand return into the net. Sport has a way of revealing our character as well as developing it.

I’m a better man for having played sport. But it’s also been the arena in which God has revealed some painful truths. I’ve written these series of posts because, if for no one else’s benefit but mine, I’m aware of the need to think about godliness in the context of sporting competition!

In preparing these posts I’ve been helped by material from Stuart Weir who wrote a book called ‘What the Bible says about Sport’ , CJ Mahaney who wrote ‘Don’t Waste Your Sports’, Graham Beynon’s book ‘Jesus@Leisure’ and the article on sport in the Dictionary of Pastoral Ethics. The good stuff probably came from there and they ought to get the credit.

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